L.A. Times: Migrants ‘Typically’ Don’t Cut Americans’ Wages

People attend a Townhall meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SUSANA BATES (Photo credit should read SUSANA BATES/AFP via Getty Images)
SUSANA BATES/AFP via Getty Images

The inflow of job-seeking migrants typically does not cut Americans’ wages, says a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at California’s Los Angeles Times.

“Research shows that immigrants strengthen the economy and typically don’t compete with U.S.-born workers for jobs or lower their wages,” says the August 17 article by Molly O’Toole. She won the media industry’s Pulitzer award in 2020 for sympathetically covering migrants kept out of the United States and its labor market.

But there is overwhelming evidence that migrants typically displace Americans and lower wages, according to a long list of establishment people and groups.

The admissions come from independent academics, the National Academies of Science, the Congressional Budget Office, executives, The Economist, more academics, the New York Times, the New York Times again, state officials, unionsmore business executives, lobbyists, employees, the Wall Street Journalfederal economists, Goldman Sachsoil drillers, the Bank of Ireland, Wall Street analystsfired professionals, legislators, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce2015 Bernie Sanders, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, construction workers, New York Times subscribersa former Treasury secretary, a New York Times columnist, a Bloomberg columnist, author Barack Obama, President Barack Obama, and the Business Roundtable.

The arrival of migrants also reduces corporate investment in the labor-saving machines, which allows Americans to do more — and earn more — each workday.

The federal policy of inflating the new labor supply flies millions of foreign workers to businesses on the coast, so shifting new investmentjobs, and real-estate wealth away from the central states and towards coastal investors.

At the same time, migration also does expand the economy by delivering more consumers to Walmart, more renters to landlords, and more homebuyers to the construction, mortgage, and furniture industries. That’s good news for stock market investors, CEOs waiting for bonuses, and the U.S. legislators who get to spend the extra tax receipts.

But the expanded supply of new migrants also cuts Americans’ disposable wages by inflating housing costs for buyers. That reality is recognized by investor groups who are urging more immigration. For example, the Economic Innovation Group says:

The relationship between population growth and housing demand is clear. More people means more demand for housing, and fewer people means less demand.

Mike Bloomberg’s pro-migration advocacy group, New American Economy, pushes the same argument:

The research shows that an increase in the absolute number of immigrants in a particular county from 2000–2010 results in corresponding economic gains—increased demand for locally produced goods and services, a corresponding inflow of U.S.-born individuals—that are reflected in the housing market.

A recent academic paper says a sudden migration by Americans can boost housing prices by eight percent for every one percent increase in a city’s population.

Rising house prices have helped push many Californians into poverty, says the federal Census Bureau.

There is also much evidence that migration has deeply shaped the distribution of wealth once the 1925 congressional bars on immigration gradually ended in the late 1960s, and then doubled in the early 1990s. For example, an August 2020 report by Stephen Rose at George Washington University reported:

Between 1967 and 1981, median family income rose by 27%, more than three times as much as the 8% growth experienced in the period between 2002 and 2016.

Three times as many people in the later 15-year period experienced a large loss, defined as a drop of more than 25%, compared to the earlier period (12% v. 4%). Overall, the share of people losing ground (a loss of income of at least 5%) doubled from 15% to 30% in the last period. Many fewer experienced a large gain (33% v. 53%).

The Los Angeles Times’ article reflects the quiet alignment of many progressive professionals with established business interests.

“Reporters are now part of the overclass, even if they see themselves as left-wingers,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Centre for Immigration Studies.

The quiet alignment was scorched by left-wing author Kurt Anderson in an August 7 article in The Atlantic magazine:

For those past two decades, I’d prospered and thrived in the new political economy. And unharmed by automation or globalization or the new social contract, I’d effectively ignored the fact that the majority of my fellow Americans weren’t prospering or thriving.

When it came to the millions of losers, I felt grateful that my work couldn’t be automated or offshored or outsourced, and I thought, Creative destruction, invisible hand, yada yada, and voted for politicians who said we should retrain steelworkers to become computer programmers.

Anderson’s article is titled “College-Educated Professionals Are Capitalism’s Useful Idiots.”

But those steelworkers never had a chance to become computer programmers once the tech sector was allowed after 1990 to displace well-paid Americans with a huge number of migrant graduates who were promised of green cards in exchange for a decade of cheap labor.

In 2019, Breitbart News reported:

Census data shows that one-in-seven software developers in Hudson County, New Jersey, were born in the United States, down from a six-in-seven share in 1980.

This wholescale replacement of American software experts by foreigners — mostly by Indian visa workers — is repeated in many counties across the United States, according to 2017 federal census data analyzed by R. Davis, a software developer in Silicon Valley.

O’Toole won her Pulitzer Prize for covering blue-collar migrants on the southern border. “Too much of the immigration debate is about illegal immigration or the impact on less-skilled Americans,” said Krikorian, adding:

Those are both very important issues, but there’s a lot more to it. The effect on white-collar workers is something that doesn’t get as much attention because people just imagine immigrants as being less educated and so that’s where their effect is going to be … There is still this sense that technology jobs, and white-collar jobs in general, are safe from immigrant competition because they require high levels of skill and immigrants are all Honduran landscapers.

Like most immigration reporters, O’Toole rarely covers disputes over visa workers and tech jobs, even though she is based in D.C., where such disputes are common and newsworthy.

Many establishment reporters also seem to believe that Americans are not good enough for the high-tech economy, said Krikorian. “Condescension is part of it,” he said, continuing:

There’s an assumption that [foreign] tech workers are essential: ‘That’s where the economy is going and we really just aren’t producing enough people, and too many Americans are stupid and lazy, so we need to have Indians [tech workers] as a vitamin D shot for our economy.’

In contrast, many polls show that Americans have a nuanced and generous view on immigration: They want to welcome immigrants — and they also strongly prefer that their fellow Americans get the jobs before CEOs hire cheaper, desperate, and compliant migrants.

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