President Donald Trump’s “Hire American” policy forced companies to raise wages and recruit sidelined Americans for lower-skilled jobs during the summer season, says an article in Politico.
Trump’s success was highlighted by the H-2B program, which allows companies to import low-wage workers for seasonal jobs in the United States, and which also helps cut wages for full-time American workers. The annual inflow is formally limited to 66,000, and the resident population is roughly 115,000, but House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed loophole laws in December 2015 and in May 2017 to sharply raise the limit.
The combined pressure of the companies and Congress pushed Trump’s Department of Homeland Security to issue an extra 15,000 H-2B visas late in the summer, which kept the H-2B program roughly level with temporarily raised 2016 inflow. But the extra visas were too late in the season for most seasonal employers — especially landscapers and hospitality companies — many of whom responded to the labor shortage by raising wages to attract American workers, include students, former criminals, and unemployed elder Americans. According to Politico:
The Beachmere Inn in Ogunquit, a seaside village in southeastern Maine, didn’t receive the eight H-2B visas it requested to supplement its summer housekeeping staff. To make ends meet, owner Sarah Diment recruited college kids through her Facebook network and cobbled together part-time shifts, some filled by American students and some by foreign students here on cultural exchange visas. In the past year, Diment estimates she had to boost housekeeping wages roughly 10 percent to keep employees.
Trump’s policies also forced large companies to search for Americans sidelined since the 2008 crash.
North American Midway Entertainment, a large traveling-amusement-park company headquartered in Indiana, requested roughly 400 H-2B workers this year, a quarter of its total seasonal workforce. But the Department of Homeland Security reached its 66,000-visa cap before the company could secure the guest workers. Company President Danny Huston said he had to skip three fairs and contract out some ride operations because of the visa shortage. In total, he estimates that North American Midway may have lost as much as $800,000.
But the company was able to cover about one-third of the vacancies by hiring American through job fairs, newspaper advertisements, and social media. “We even set up a job fair in Puerto Rico,” Huston said.
The H-2B is only one of many government programs which allow companies to import temporary, long-term and permanent foreign workers into the United States to compete for jobs against the 4 million Americans who turn 18 each year. These programs also force down Americans’ wages.