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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Does Arizona's Immigration Law really affect the availability of jobs for Legal Workers?

So you are a older work who has spent the long 6 months looking for a new job.  You worry about competing with younger and perhaps less expensive workers taking a new job that could be yours. If you are in many states like Arizona, California, Florida, NY,Texas or even Illinois you might be thinking that the millions of illegal or undocumented aliens are competing against you. The question is do the facts validate that view?

The San Diego Union Tribune this weekend wrote:
"A study released last month by the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York, based on data from 2005 to 2007, shows that at that time there were roughly 680,000 immigrants in San Diego County, legal and illegal. More than half came from Mexico and Central America, with relatively small percentages coming from other areas, led by the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Canada.
In total, they constituted 27 percent of the local work force in 2005-07, including 62 percent of the county’s farm workers, 60 percent of machine operators and fabricators, and 43 percent of construction workers — at a time when that industry was still booming.
Nearly one-quarter of the county’s immigrants at that time were in low-wage service occupations, including hamburger flippers, nursing aides, janitors and hotel maids. They earned an average of $18,625 annually, slightly above the minimum wage and 16 percent lower than the $22,262 paid to U.S.-born workers.

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The wage gap was even broader in construction. The study estimated that immigrants were paid $31,042 per year, 25 percent less than the $41,389 average of their U.S.-born counterparts.
Although the vast majority of those immigrant workers were legal, the low-wage jobs attracted a greater percentage of illegal immigrants. A nationwide study by the Pew Research Center last year shows that 30 percent of illegal immigrants go into service jobs, compared with 17 percent of legal immigrants. Twelve percent take production jobs, versus 5 percent of legal immigrants.
The ready availability of low-paid immigrant workers keeps a damper on wage growth in those occupations. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank in Washington, said the main people facing the brunt of that impact are low-skilled workers with less than a high school education, since those jobs typically don’t attract higher-skilled, U.S.-born workers. The study found that the stream of new immigrants into the U.S. economy reduces the salary potential of low-educated immigrants but has relatively little impact on native-born workers.
The study found that the only U.S.-born group to be affected by immigration in California was men without a high school education, whose wages were estimated to be 2.9 percent lower than if they weren’t competing with immigrants.
“In terms of income, the aggregate impact on the economy is very small — a fraction of a percent of the gross domestic product,” said Gordon Hanson, director of the Center on Pacific Economies at the University of California San Diego. “Most unauthorized immigrants are the educational equivalent of high school dropouts, meaning they’re competing with less than 10 percent of the U.S. population.”
Hanson added that illegal workers fill certain needs in the economy since they tend to be more willing to travel to the best job opportunities and their numbers ebb and flow with the economy. He said that theoretically, those needs could be solved through legal immigration, but U.S. visa programs are so slow and cumbersome that they don’t match the demand for workers.
One of the other major economic arguments concerning illegal immigrants is that they don’t pay their fair share in taxes but rely on taxpayer-provided services, including public schools and hospital emergency rooms. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports greater restrictions on immigration, says the cost to California alone comes to $10.5 billion per year."

Read the full story:Experts split on economic toll of illegal immigrants :



  1. It depends on your job skills. In my case, illegal and /or undocumented workers do not affect me. If you are a professional engineer, teacher or medical professional, then you have no worries wince an illegal alien is not going to be able to qualify for your job role. A documented immigrant will, yes.

    So my advise to high school and college students is to choose a career that is difficult to outsource to foreigners. Unfortunately, there are not many. One choice is elementary and secodnary teachers.

  2. If you're a professional, then I don't think illegal aliens are too much of a threat. Legal immigrants are another story. Many more are professionals that are attracted or recruited to the United States.

  3. From a California school teacher.

    I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is a Title 1 school, meaning that its students average lower socioeconomic and income levels.

    Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I'm not talking a glass of milk and roll -- but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten.

    I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more DO have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13).

    I was ordered to spend $700K on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America..

    I have had to intervene several times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist of many Illegal’s, here in the country less then 3 months, who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them "Putas"(whores) and throwing things, that the teachers were in tears.

    Free medical, free education, free food, free day care etc.,. Is it any wonder they feel entitled to not only be in this country but to demand rights, privileges and entitlements?

    To those who want to point out how much these Illegal’s contribute to our society because they LIKE their gardener and housekeeper and they like to pay less for tomatoes: spend some time in the real world of Illegal’s and see the TRUE costs.

    Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases. For me, I'll pay more for tomatoes.

    It does, however, have everything to do with culture: It involves an American third-world culture that doesn't value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15 and that refuses to assimilate, and an American culture that has become so weak and worried about political correctness" that we don't have the will to do anything about it.

    CHEAP LABOR? Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about?

    Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage.

    Consumers don't want expensive produce.

    Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs.

    But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth, a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as "cheap labor."

    Take, for example, an Illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or 6.00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200 free.

    He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.

    He qualifies for food stamps.

    He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care.

    His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.

    He requires bilingual teachers and books.

    He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.

    If they are, or become, aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. If qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare. All of this is at (OUR) taxpayer's expense.

    He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance.

    Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.

    He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

    Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6..00/hour left after paying their bills AND his.

    Cheap labor?

  4. I agree with many of the points made by "Anonymous". We need to move from strict "political correctness" to "economical correctness". In other words, does the policy make economic sense? If the policies are not resulting in the intended results, then they should be discontinued.

  5. I, too, agree with many of Anonymous's points.

    I'll answer this question as a US citizen that has, over the last five years, lived in Arizona and New Hampshire.

    In Arizona, there's an idea that Americans won't pick vegetables, wash laundry, clean hotel rooms, dig ditches, or hang drywall.

    In New Hampshire, with a much smaller illegal immigrant population, most of these jobs go to American citizens. I've noticed that the pay for these positions seems to be a bit higher here in New Hampshire. I've also noticed that as a consumer, I pay more for these types of services than I did when I lived in Arizona.

    As a society, we should make a choice. Is cheap labor, and therefore easier acquisition of wealth, more important? Or is living in a society in which its legal participants are paid a fair wage for the work they do something that we value?

    This article is trying to have it both ways. How can it only cost unskilled workers 2.9% salary, but the construction example shows a 25% change? Are you telling me that a construction company that has access to labor that costs 25% less than what I make only has a 2.9% impact on my salary?

  6. Our current liberal based government, both at the national and state levels, continue to vote for the very provisions and entitlements these illegals feel they're owed. I am proud of who I am and where I came from, but am not of Hispanic descent, and did not always had the financial security and benefits of a successful 40+ year professional career. At one point, when I was young, just starting out and struggling to make ends meet, I approached the county offices of human services in which I lived, for assistance (back in 1971) and was told I: 1) had a job, 2) made to much money (which was then $3.33/hr.) 3) had insurance 4) did not fit the racial or ethnic category (and I specifically didn't say profile) to qualify for the county, state or federal assistance I was seeking. My request was denied. Needless to say I was dumbfounded and angry ... but I continued to work hard and eventually paid off the hospital bill for the delivery of my first born son. To see these tax funded social benefits I was denied because of my ethnic and income standings, bestowed on the undeserving, still make me angry ...

  7. If you think that educated Americans won't take low paying jobs held by illegal immigrants then I recommend that you go to the following link and read ALL of the article.

  8. The question is like the chicken and egg question. Which came first?
    In the 80s and 90s while working in the Southeastern US, I witnessed the conversion of an the construction industry from blue collar American citizen to legal and illegal aliens; but to begin with mostly illegal.
    All but the Union jobs are now mostly aliens of both descriptions.
    This is how it would work. Contractor has crew consisting of American citizens. His competitor finds a way to cut costs and make more profit by bringing in one or two illegal aliens and paying them under the table. That competitor is having his American citizen employees train the laborers; whether its floor coverings, tile, drywall, painting, roofing or masonry. Next, once sufficiently trained, on the next job a few more are brought in, but less Americans until the entire crew has been replaced.
    The result is the other contractors can't compete with that! They have to follow suit. It’s a vicious cycle and definitely not limited to farm labor.
    This scenario has been deliberately set in play by big business, the Real Estate construction industry and our government. Allen Greenspan testified before Congress that skilled middle class Americans were making too much money. http://www.rense.com/general75/skilled.htm Although his comments were directed at the H1b programs importing skilled workers, it still applies to a general mindset. This is also why the Feds filed a lawsuit against Arizona for trying to enforce existing laws not being enforced by the feds.
    Saying they take jobs none of us will work is a line of BS. I worked in construction doing some of the very jobs being described above, but would stand little chance of getting any work now if I wanted or had to. I've since moved on and developed skills more marketable and higher paying. But that does not mean I wouldn't do the other work if my current job were not available. When I was in college, I even remember friends who went up to Washington to pick apples for a few months. Bet they couldn’t do that now.
    I agree with previous comments. But consequently the State of California is in financial trouble because of what the Teacher said above and more.
    We are on a very slippery slope -- Cut those benefits and all hell will break loose and the National Guard will be patrolling our neighborhoods. Keep paying and the State goes bankrupt, can’t pay and all hell breaks loose and we have the National Guard patrolling our streets.
    No matter what, it’s going to break if it’s not corrected soon.
    Quite frankly the illegal aliens accept lower pay because of the fear of being detected. Once granted legal status, like in Carter’s experiment in ’79, they too will demand better pay and benefits. So, if that’s true, why the big Democratic push to grant legal status to these lawbreakers? To build a constituency that will bend to its will and not question authority.

    Count on it.

    San Jose, CA

  9. It' sad, isn't it? That we have become a country that is so concerned with what everyone else thinks that we have let our own citizens - hard working people like you and I, with kids in school/college and we can hardly make it. If I get laid off, my kids don't get subsidized meal programs, no one buys my kids their school supplies, and I PAY TAXES here in Texas. I don't think any of us Americans really care if immigrants come to the US - the right way. All of our Grand Parents came here from another country - mine were first generation.. but, they came thru Ellis Island, as registered immigrants. And, believe me.. my Grand Parents were PROUD to get here from Sicily and SPEAK ENGLISH even though they had to quickly learn it. The would NEVER have complainted and demanded this and that, they were thankful to be here and have the american dream of any opportunity you wanted. I think what this all comes down too is that YOU AND I are footing the bill for everyone here illigally. Their children fill the school systems, they drive on the roads, they shop, live just like you and I but THEY ARE NOT GIVING BACK to the system. Therefore, the system can no longer support everyone that is using it. Does not matter if its the county (free) hospital in your city, the public (free) school system with the meals (free) etc. If they are here, living here - having new babies here - they MUST START PAYING TAXES AND CONTRIBUTING to the whole system. We just can't support everyone now, the system is crashing. We are having more cuts here in Texas this week it was announced in my sons highschool and jr high. 30 teachers were cut from one school and the class sizes are already in the 30's... how can this be? Where is the money from the state lottery and the taxes we pay here? We are not taking jobs no one else wants - we are working to live, paying for everyone else. In the end... it's you and I that are unable to afford to send our kids to college these days, pay the summer electric bills, etc. We have to START feeding and helping our own people in the US, everyone that works here has to contribute, right? They are here because they want to be here, right? Then they must become part of the paying system.


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