Wages Dropping in Jobs Prone to Work Visas, Says Expert

H-2B
AP File Photo
Washington, D.C.

Despite constant claims from business-friendly politicians and the legacy media of a looming “labor shortage” for low-skilled seasonal jobs, new data by an immigration expert paints a different picture.

Every year, 66,000 foreign guest workers are brought to the U.S. on the H-2B to take seasonal jobs in the landscaping, hotel and resort, seafood and blue-collar industries.

Most recently, as Breitbart News reported, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) showed a desire to increase the flow of cheaper, foreign workers to the U.S. by up to 70,000. H-2B foreign workers generally are allowed to remain for up to three years, though many over-stay their visas.

New data by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Dr. Steven Camarota show that claims of a labor shortage, and thus the call for more foreign workers to take American jobs, are overstated and unfounded.

While reviewing wage records for jobs that H-2B visa workers often take, like groundskeepers, cooks, construction workers, and maids, Camarota found that for native-born Americans and newcomers, wages in seven of the nine occupations reviewed actually decreased from 2007 to 2015.

The only increase in wages between 2007 and 2015 went to hotel maids and housekeepers, though the wage only increased by 7.7 percent, and construction workers, which saw an even smaller increase at 2.8 percent.

For strictly wages of native-born American workers in these nine blue-collar occupations, seven of the jobs saw wages decrease between 2007 and 2015. For native-born American maids and construction workers, each saw smaller increases in their pay over the 9-year span, with maids pay only increasing by 6.7 percent and construction workers’ pay only increasing by 1.7 percent.

Pro-American worker advocates and immigration hawks say that if a labor shortage existed in blue-collar, seasonal American job fields, wages would be skyrocketing, especially over a 9-year period.

Dr. Camarota says that even if wages had increased for Americans and immigrants, the number of H-2B foreign workers should not necessarily be increased or continued at the current 66,000 a year rate, writing that workers need a break from decades-long wage stagnation:

Of course, the whole idea that wage increases justify increased immigration to reduce or hold down future wage growth is highly questionable. After all, these occupations are often filled by the least-educated and poorest Americans — immigrants and natives alike. Allowing wages to increase can be seen as a positive development because it reduces social inequality and encourages work. But even assuming that rising wages are a negative development that must be addressed by increased immigration, there is still no evidence in the wage data that workers are in short supply. So the stated reason for the increase in the H-2B program is unsupported by [American Community Survey] wage data.

Similar data at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) show that evidence for labor shortages in blue-collar, seasonal jobs in the U.S. continue to be unfounded.

Unemployment rates among younger men in the U.S. also confirm Dr. Camarota and EPI’s conclusions that there is no low-skilled labor shortage.

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, demographer Nicholas Eberstadt’s research revealed that labor force participation rates for men between the ages of 25 and 54-years-old is lower today than it was during the Great Depression. Altogether, almost 95 million Americans are not in the labor-force or looking for work at all.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

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