WANTED: MORE IMMIGRANTS TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT! — Trump Administration’s “White Nationalism” Likely Road To National Disaster!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/sunday/to-be-great-again-america-needs-immigrants.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

Rushir Sharma writes in the NY Times Sunday Review:

“In short, the standard innovation theory of American exceptionalism is all about qualities that make each worker more productive. Today, nearly all the economic discussion about how to make America great again focuses on ways — like cutting red tape and taxes — to revive flagging productivity growth.

Though this discussion remains critically important, it plays down a big shift in the story. The underlying growth potential of any economy is shaped not only by productivity, or output per worker, but also by the number of workers entering the labor force. The growth of the labor force is in turn determined mainly by the number of native-born and immigrant working-age people. Over the last two decades, the United States’ advantage in productivity growth has narrowed sharply, while its population advantages, compared with both Europe and Japan, have essentially held steady.

What makes America great is, therefore, less about productivity than about population, less about Google and Stanford than about babies and immigrants.

The growing importance of the population race will be very hard for any political leader to fully digest. Every nation prefers to think of itself as productive in the sense of hard-working and smart, not just fertile. But population is where the real action is.

Comparing six of the leading developed countries — the United States, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia and Britain — I found that not only has productivity growth been slowing across the board in recent decades, but also that the gaps in productivity growth among these rich nations are narrowing sharply. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, productivity was growing much faster in the United States than in Germany or Japan, but that advantage has largely disappeared in this decade.

The reasons for this convergence are complex, possibly having to do with the way production technology now spreads quickly across borders. But this trend spans the developed world, and it basically holds regardless of which two countries you compare, which should raise doubts about how any one country, including the United States, can regain a distinct economic advantage by focusing only on reviving productivity.

Which brings us back to babies and immigrants. Like productivity, population growth has been slowing worldwide in recent decades, the big difference being that the gaps among the rich nations are increasingly significant. In the 1960s the United States population growth rate averaged 1.2 percent, or 50 percent higher than Europe’s and about the same as Japan’s. By the late 1960s, population growth peaked worldwide because of the spread of birth control and other cultural shifts, but it has slowed much more gradually in the United States than in its rivals.

Since 2005, per capita gross domestic product has grown on average by 0.6 percent a year in the United States, exactly the same rate as in Japan and virtually the same rate as in the 19 nations of the eurozone. In other words, if it weren’t for the boost from babies and immigrants, the United States economy would look much like those supposed laggards, Europe and Japan.

Indeed, if the United States population had been growing as slowly as Japan’s over the last two decades, its share of the global economy would be just 15 percent, not the 25 percent it holds today.

Moreover, immigrants make a surprisingly big contribution to population growth. In the United States, immigrants have accounted for a third to nearly a half of population growth for decades. In other countries with Anglo-Saxon roots — Canada, Australia and Britain — immigrants have accounted for more than half of population growth over the past decade. Those economies have also been growing faster than their counterparts in the rest of Europe or Japan. But much of that advantage would have disappeared without their population advantage.

Politically, the irony of this moment is stark. Population growth is increasingly important as an economic force and is increasingly driven by immigration. Yet now along comes a new breed of nationalists, rising on the strength of their promises to limit immigration. And they have been especially successful in countries where anti-immigrant sentiment has run strong, including the United States and Britain.

. . . .

It would be unrealistic to imagine that hard economic logic will turn the anti-global, anti-foreign tide any time soon. So the likely result is that the United States and Britain will go ahead and limit immigration. To the extent they do — and their rivals do not — they will undermine their key economic edge, and cede much of the growth advantage they have enjoyed over Europe and Japan.”

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The “other people’s babies” crowd is driven by xenophobia and racism, not by any real desire for a great future for all Americans.

Meanwhile, tone-deaf Republicans, including Jeff Sessions, are calling for limits on legal immigration, without any credible factual or statistical basis to support their restrictionist agenda. Same goes for those who would limit family-based immigration in favor of some type of “point system” favoring highly skilled migrants.

The U.S. needs (and uses) migrant labor in all parts of the economy. If anything, migration, both legal and undocumented, at the “worker bee level” — farmworkers, construction  workers, food processors, child care workers, hospitality industry workers, janitors, and other service occupations — has been just as important to our growth and prosperity as a nation as have been scientists, researchers, professors, executives, star athletes, entertainers, and capitalists.

We need a comprehensive immigration reform package that not only legalizes those law-abiding immigrants already in  the workforce, but provides opportunities for significantly expanded legal immigration. Not only would this more realistic approach address our economic needs, but it also would be a better way to solve immigration enforcement issues than money spent on walls, detention, and more enforcement bureaucracy.

As the system more reasonably matches supply and demand, the pressure for migration outside the system decreases and the incentive for “getting in line” increases. Just good old capitalist theory applied to the oldest human phenomenon: migration.

PWS

05-07-17

WashPost: Administration Warns Employers Not To Use H-1B Program To “Dis” U.S. Workers!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-tells-companies-not-to-overlook-qualified-americans/2017/04/04/87fa4e06-1909-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?utm_term=.fe6b3da5783c

Sadie Gurman reports for the AP:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has issued a stern warning to U.S. companies as they begin applying for coveted skilled-worker visas, cautioning that it would investigate and prosecute those who overlook qualified American workers for jobs.

The message came on the opening day of applications for American employers seeking visas known as H-1B, which are used mostly by technology companies to bring in programmers and other specialized workers from other countries.

“U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims,” Tom Wheeler, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

The Obama administration sued companies for violating the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provisions, including businesses that favored foreigners over U.S. workers. But Monday’s warning in a news release at the start of the visa process appeared to be a first-of-its kind signal to employers not to put American workers at a disadvantage.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also announced that it would step up its reviews of employers that use H-1B visas, saying “too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.”

The statements were the latest indication that even legal immigration will be scrutinized under the Trump administration.”

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Interesting that Jeff Sessions and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are getting so involved in the H-1B program. Normally, H-1B enforcement would be a matter for the DHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices at the DOJ. But, I suppose without any voting rights or police abuse cases to investigate, the Civil Rights Division will have some time on its hands for taking on some new immigration enforcement responsibilities.

Another thought.  Rather than battling the Administration over the H-1B program and threatening to move tech operations to Canada and elsewhere if their demands are not met, why don’t U.S. tech companies and Democrats “think outside the box.”

Why not make areas of the “Rust Belt” with willing workers and high unemployment the new “Silicon Valley East?” Use H-1Bs to re-train U.S. workers for permanent jobs in technology. Build new offices or refurbish abandoned plants. Establish training programs with local community colleges and technical colleges. Fund some opioid addiction treatment programs to get capable workers off of drugs and into jobs where they have some future. Support regional airports in “the hinterlands” that Trump is trying to shut down.

Trump seems only vaguely interested in addressing the real problems of unemployed and underemployed workers. If he actually does succeed in so-called “health care reform,” (that is transferring money from the needy to the rich) their situation will become immeasurably worse. Futile grandstanding like relaxing environmental controls for an “ain’t gonna happen” revival of the coal industry, appointing Gov. Chris “The Bridge” Christie to a form a new governmental committee on opioid addiction, or having Jeff Sessions divert the Civil Rights Division into H-1B investigations aren’t serious attempts to address the issues.

But, so far, the Dems and the leaders of the tech industry have been largely MIA on practical solutions to these problems that Trump seems unlikely to address in any realistic manner. So, while the Dems are tilting at the “Gorsuch Windmill,” which I can guarantee you isn’t a concern for most “Dems turned Trump voters” in the Rust Belt, the opportunity for real leadership, genuine concern for U.S. workers, and demonstrated problem solving is going by the boards. Maybe that’s how Donald Trump became President with 46.4% of the vote.

Just proving once again the Trump might not have to act presidential or accomplish much of positive value to be a two-term President. And, as he has already shown, he can do that relatively easily even if he never attains the approval of the majority of Americans.

PWS

04/04/17

 

WSJ: Needed: More Legal Immigration — Sorry DT, You, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, And Your Nationalistic Xenophobia Are Weighing Down The U.S. Economy And Costing Jobs!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-growing-labor-shortage-1490829265

“President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, and good for him, but will there be enough workers to build it? That’s a serious question. Many American employers, especially in construction and agriculture, are facing labor shortages that would be exacerbated by restrictionist immigration policies.

Demographic trends coupled with a skills mismatch have resulted in a frustrating economic paradox: Millions of workers are underemployed even as millions of jobs go unfilled. The U.S. workforce is also graying, presenting a challenge for industries that entail manual labor.

Construction is ground zero in the worker shortage. Many hard-hats who lost their jobs during the recession left the labor force. Some found high-paying work in fossil fuels during the fracking boom and then migrated to renewables when oil prices tumbled. While construction has rebounded, many employed in the industry a decade ago are no longer there.

. . . .

Some restrictionists claim that cheap foreign labor is hurting low-skilled U.S. workers, but there’s little evidence for that. One Napa grower recently told the Los Angeles Times that paying even $20 an hour wasn’t enough to keep native workers on the farm.

. . . .

President Trump would compound the problem by reducing legal immigration or deporting unauthorized immigrants whose only crime is working without legal documentation. Low-skilled immigrants (those with 12 years of education or less) are estimated to account for nearly a third of the hours worked in agriculture and 20% in construction.

If President Trump wants employers to produce and build more in America, the U.S. will need to improve education and skills in manufacturing and IT. But the economy will also need more foreign workers, and better guest worker programs to bring them in legally.”

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Gee whiz, Donald, I’ll freely admit to not knowing much more about labor economics that you and your advisors do. But when the WSJ, the organ of GOP corporate America, says you’re barking up the wrong tree, perhaps you should listen, before it’s too late. Just a thought.

PWS

03/30/17