Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Immigrants find Work even while Unemployment Remains High among Native Born

In the last two years, over a million immigrants that arrived in the US found jobs while native born workers saw unemployment rates soar, particularly those in the low-wage sector  saw increases  in the double digits, over the same period of time.

The findings were released by researchers at the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston who conducted a review of US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data for Reuters.

Their conclusion was that immigrants, often young and unskilled or with limited skills, took jobs in the construction or service-related sectors.

In the years between 2008 and 2010, US household employment declined by 6.26 million but newly arrived migrants, 1.1 million of them, still found jobs despite the recession.  However, Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies estimates that 35% of them were undocumented workers.

“There is basically no unskilled immigration that is legal. There are basically no provisions in the law for unskilled immigrants,” Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, said.

This also makes undocumented workers more likely to face workforce abuse or other hardships, such as wage denials.  Most of the jobs taken by immigrants were in hotels and food services, retail trade, sanitation, cleaning and construction.

“One of the advantages of hiring, particularly young, undocumented immigrants, is the fact that employers do not have to pay health benefits or basic payroll taxes,” said Sum.  He said that with the unemployment rate for blue-collar American workers without high-school degrees hovering just under thirty percent, the situation was “creating a deeper domestic labor glut at the bottom of the workforce ladder, depressing wages and sharpening already widening income disparities.”

The findings may also come as a surprise, since newly arrived immigrants continue to find work amidst a wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric and backlash against Latinos with states across the nation turning up their own copycat laws similar to Arizona’s controversial SB 1070.

Several more states have recently stepped up their efforts to crackdown on illegal immigration by expanding the online E-verify system used by employers to check immigration status or participating in the “Secure Communities” program.

Yet, immigrant laborers are necessary to the industries they serve because they bring skills that US-workers simply don’t have.  That is according to Ezequiel Arvizu, the compliance and diversity representative with federal contractor Sundt Construction in Arizona, who said,”People often think construction is unskilled but the trades are very skilled and we need cement masons, carpenters, equipment operators,”

With the unemployment rate hovering around 9.4 percent, President Barack Obama has said domestic job creation is at the top of his priorities and this could spell even more immigration laws and stricter enforcement of existing ones to curtail the hiring of undocumented workers.

Economic Times

Money News