There IS a Shortage of Low-skilled Labor, But it’s Not Because we Aren’t Letting in Enough Immigrants

Scott Morefield
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Posted: Aug 10, 2017 12:01 AM
There IS a Shortage of Low-skilled Labor, But it’s Not Because we Aren’t Letting in Enough Immigrants

Despite the demagoguery coming from the Left that defines anything less than complete open borders as unforgivable racism, the Trump Administration does have an unassailable point when it comes to the cost of labor. Increase the supply, and the price goes down. Decrease the supply by limiting even legal low-skilled immigration, and demand, and wages, will rise.

Try as they might, it’s hard to argue with that pesky law of supply and demand.

And yet liberals insist upon it, usually using roundabout ways that have more to do with ‘values,’ ‘diversity,’ and ‘not being a racist,’ or something, than actual data or common sense.

The position articulated by conservatives like Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and notably of late by White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller during his brutal exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta is essentially this: The United States has enough and even too much low-skilled labor. Those already here who are stuck in low-skilled labor positions have seen their wages stagnate and even decline. Liberal efforts to bring the “huddled masses” to our shores only exacerbate this situation by driving wages down.

“The people that hurt the most by the policy you’re advocating [unfettered open borders] are immigrant workers, and minority workers, and African-American workers, and Hispanic workers,” said Miller to Acosta during the exchange.

And he was right, except Miller left out a crucial part of the picture, a part that establishment politicians and corporate elites hammer home relentlessly, albeit to suit their own ends. Like it or not, the fact remains that there IS a shortage of low-skilled labor.

But why, and is the solution to bring in hordes of unskilled labor from foreign lands?

In this writer’s full-time role as a Marketing Director for a 30-branch, six-state staffing firm, I see this labor shortage firsthand every day. The bulk of our agency’s business involves clients in search of low or zero skill light industrial workers. Most utilize us to recruit, screen, and ‘try-out’ workers before they go full-time. We call it ‘screen-to-hire.’

Since I started working in the staffing industry in 1999, the only time our offices never had problems recruiting enough people for our jobs was 2009-2010, the heart of the ‘Great Recession.’ Other than that, filling our job orders has been a constant struggle. We spend countless advertising dollars and employ endless creative methods trying to attract job seekers who are willing to start at the bottom and work their way up in one of the many career opportunities we offer.

Granted, the pay is low. Yes, the hours can be tough. Indeed, the work is hard. But these things have always been the case with America’s entry-level jobs.

So, what has changed?

At least part of the answer likely lies in the response countless ‘job seekers’ give us when they turn down a position we offer them, because if I had a dime for every time we’ve heard the words, “No thanks. I make almost that amount of money from the [name the welfare program] I get,” I’d be a lot richer than I am now.

Truth is, in 39 states welfare can actually pay more than an $8 per hour job. In six of those, one would need $12 per hour just to beat the government dole. With razor-thin margins often being just one of many challenges businesses face, having to compete for workers with a government that would seemingly rather pay people to sit at home than work shouldn’t be one of them.

According to November data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than two-thirds, or 62.8 percent, of the non-military, non-institutionalized population over 16 is either employed or actively engaged in trying to be employed. The rest, or 37.2 percent, have dropped out of the labor force entirely.

That’s almost 95 million people sitting at home for one reason or another. Granted, many of these are retired or students, but many could also be doing the jobs Americans are currently refusing to do.

When Mitt Romney famously said 47 percent of people are “dependent on government” to some degree or another, his numbers may have been off but he did highlight a dangerous trend. Almost 110,000,000 Americans lived in households receiving some form of “means tested” welfare benefits in 2012, which, according to CNSNews, equaled 35.4 percent of the entire population of the United States at the time.

So while the national unemployment rate is indeed ‘officially’ at a historically low 4.3 percent, that figure doesn’t count the 95 million ‘officially’ out of the labor market, not even close.

Which brings us back to whether we’re bringing in low-skilled immigrants from foreign lands to do much-needed jobs in a booming economy, or are we just bringing them here to “do jobs Americans won’t do.”

Jobs Americans would be doing if they weren’t sitting at home collecting government benefits.

This is why all the elements of the Trump Administration’s agenda fit so well together. It takes sound trade policy, sound immigration policy, and sound entitlement policy to make a sound economy really tick. Save money on entitlements by putting Americans back to work, then help boost their wages by limiting immigration and implementing sound trade policies that put American manufacturing first.

It’s a win, win, win that’s a lot better than bringing in millions of low-skilled, often-unassimilable foreign immigrants.