The majority of low-skilled, foreign laborers arrive states like Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Colorado, according to a new study.
Every year, 66,000 foreign guest workers are brought to the U.S. on the H-2B to take seasonal jobs in blue-collar positions. In a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the H-2B visa-holders are shown to take the largest amount of jobs in Texas, where blue-collar employers asked for 18,002 foreign workers in 2016 alone.
Florida employers asked for the second-highest number, requesting nearly 8,000 H-2B workers in 2016. In Louisiana, employers asked for almost 4,500, while Colorado employers asked for more than 6,000.
Despite claims of labor shortages for blue-collar workers in these states, the average wages for the H-2B workers remain below $14 an hour. This, according to CIS researchers, depicts a job market that is not suffering from labor shortages, but instead suffering from an over-saturation of help where wages remain stagnant or decrease.
For example, in 2016, the average wage for low-skilled foreign workers was $13.15 an hour. In Florida for that same year, the average wage for H-2B workers was less, coming in at $12.14 an hour. Average wages for these workers in Colorado and Louisiana were also below $14 an hour.
On the other hand, in the state of Hawaii, where employers only asked for 37 H-2B foreign workers in 2016, the average wage of those workers was $34 an hour, the highest average wage for these workers in the U.S.
Jessica Vaughan with CIS said Hawaii’s higher wage is most likely due to the high cost of living there. Vaughan also said she finds that the H-2B visa program is used just as much for employers to hire cheaper, foreign workers as it is to “take the easy way out.”
“I don’t think the use of these visas is about trying to cut labor costs, as it is about taking the easy way out.”
“There’s different models in which people use this system,” Vaughan said. “I think for a lot of the seasonal workers, it’s less about cheap labor and more about not trying to find American workers. The employers get recruiters to import these workers.”
Vaughan said that while employers may be reaping the benefits of the H-2B visa, American workers with blue-collar skills will find it more and more difficult to break into an already foreign worker-oriented job market.
“This program isn’t going to make anything better,” Vaughan said.
“I personally believe that there are American workers out there that are willing to do these jobs if they would be able to work part-time… or if they had transportation to get to the job,” Vaughan continued.
“The Chamber of Commerce, instead of lobbying for this program, they could set up a shuttle bus program to get Americans to these jobs,” Vaughan said. “They have no way of getting to these jobs often times and they’re not paid enough to have a car.”
In a similar study, as Breitbart Texas reported, CIS researcher Dr. Steven Camarota found that for native-born Americans and newcomers, wages in seven of the nine blue-collar occupations reviewed actually decreased from 2007 to 2015.
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.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.