Good Economic News and Trump’s War on Immigration

The April Jobs report shows that unemployment has dropped to 3.9 % for the first time since 2000. This is good news in general, but many employers are struggling to find workers.  This is especially true for fast food restaurants, retail and construction companies but it is also a problem for employers of professionals such as teachers and nurses.

There was a recent article in the New York Times entitled “A Fast-Food problem: Where have all the Teenagers Gone?” Despite wages in the industry increasing faster than overall wages, employers simply do not have enough workers. A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that an increased emphasis on education and getting scholarships had contributed to the decline in working teenagers.

On April 8th, The Washington Post Editorial Board posted an article “America needs more workers. Trump’s war on Immigration won’t help.” They indicated that “American employers in an array of industries – manufacturing, agriculture, trucking, home building, energy, food service, retail and others – are warning that a long-brewing labor shortage is reaching crisis proportions” The causes provided for the shortages include an aging population and a historically low birth rate.  A Barron’s article titled “The Great Labor Crunch” projects a nationwide shortage of 8.2 million workers in the coming decade.

Consider how the war on immigration will further aggravate the labor shortage problem.

DACA – Deferred action on Childhood Arrivals – is one source of employees that may disappear under the current administration. I read that over 20,000 DACA recipients are teachers. Loss of these teachers would be devastating to our communities facing teacher shortages. While a significant number of DACA recipients hold professional occupations, they are more commonly employed in hospitality, retail, construction, education, health and social services.  These are the very industries warning of a “long-brewing labor shortage that is reaching crisis proportions”

TPS – Temporary Protected Status – has been terminated for Hondurans (57,000 in the U.S. with 7800 in Florida), Salvadorians (200,000), Haitians (45,000) among other countries. Who will take the jobs they must leave behind?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association recently published a document entitled ‘Deconstructing the Invisible Wall: How policy changes by the Trump Administration are slowing and restricting legal immigration” This document starts with pointing out the many immigrant success stories including – No less than 43% of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. This figure rises to 57% if you look at the Fortune 500 Top 35. The article points out that despite overwhelming evidence of the value immigrants bring to this country, the current administration has adopted dozens of policies and procedures that are slowing, or even stopping, legal immigration, without any Congressional Action. The result of these steps has discouraged U.S. employers from recruiting foreign workers and caused highly talented foreign workers to look elsewhere so other countries are benefiting from our losses. Foreign student enrollment has dropped. Foreign student’s tuition is often 4 times that of American students, so they have been subsidizing our students.  Who will pay to make up for the loss of revenue to our Universities? Tourism has dropped. The Visit U.S. Coalitions notes that the recent drop in tourism translates into billions in lost revenues.  While President Trump publicly fights for the construction of a physical wall, he and his administration are quietly and very deliberately restricting and slowing the pace of legal immigration by building an “Invisible Wall” If you wish to ready the entire article you may find it here.

Hopefully the tide will turn soon so that we can start to move back to our legacy as a Nation of Immigrants.

Linda M Kaplan