Seeking Alpha Author asks the obvious, why is the U.S. flooding the labor market with more immigration?

Boy this guy's got guts. There is no doubt in my mind he will be swarmed with insults for stating the obvious, but at least he begs the question.

In Eye on Unemployment: Should the U.S. Stop Immigration? Hunkar notes:

When the private sector created 100K jobs between May 1999 and May 2009, the annual issue of LPRs averaged 1 Million per year from 2000 to 2008. Both the private and public sector combined created 3.5 new jobs in the past decade.

This is simply far less than the 10 million immigrants admitted to the country. It must be noted that not all of the one million LPRs issued are working age adults. Some of them may have been here already with jobs when they became permanent residents.

Overall more immigrants came into the country during the decade when the private sector job growth was almost non-existent. We must also remember that the above statistics do not reflect the flow of illegals that entered the country during the period discussed which could also be in the millions in a decade.

Note a LPR means a green card holder, or legal permanent resident. Now look at the percentage of LPRs entering the U.S.:


src: Seeking Alpha

During the past two decades millions of jobs have disappeared in the US as those jobs were exported to low-wage countries such as Mexico, China, India, Vietnam, etc. Manufacturing was hard hit as literally thousands of factories were shutdown and moved to overseas locations as part of NAFTA and globalization. Entire towns in the midwest were decimated and became “rust-belt” towns overnight because of this phenomenon.

In addition to the granting of legal permanent residency status, the U.S. also allows thousands of workers into the country under different categories of visas.

He's got that one right, if corporations cannot offshore outsource the job they bring in foreign labor, often to undercut wages.

So, the bottom line is anyone willing to look at labor economic realities? It's called the law of supply & demand.

So, good for Hunkar for asking the obvious and recognizing the laws of labor economics. It's a very good post, loaded with statistics on the labor supply and job creation over the last decade.

I agree with him, no, it doesn't make sense to have such large immigration numbers when the unemployment rate is so high.

Will he get crucified for stating the obvious?

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long and short of it

It's a tough issue. On one hand, this post screams for common sense and firm policy that respects our residents. On the other hand, birth rates are low and our population is declining or at risk of declining. Europe is similarly challenged, and Japan. I think the matter requires a broad view, one of too many buried policies that too often are kept dark merely to preserve ongoing favors.

it really is

but if we could get some common sense instead of "current" as well as look at statistics, esp. labor economics, then maybe a sane dialog could occur.

I was fairly surprised the author was willing to take this on because it's just ridiculous. The minute anyone talks about this they get attacked, when population and immigration did really affect labor markets. (see China, India as good examples!)

True enough, but

It would take 14 years of population decline to equal the job loss since December 2007.

And that's if we stop all immigration now, mine the borders, and destroy every ship or plane crossing into our waters or airspace.

We're only losing 500,000 workers a year due to population decline. Before the downturn we were taking in 2,000,000 legal working age immigrants a year.

And that's not counting the illegals.

There's another half to this argument, but that topic has been censored here, so to see it click here.
Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

A bitter pill

You bring up a good point about demographics. I forgot which labor activist said it, when talks about amnesty came up (they were for it, you know if you can find the person, its an old guy who's from one of the major unions always on telly) who brought up demographics. The far right/nativists/nationalists (or whatever they're called these days, honestly, labels can be confusing sometimes) claim that we can't let them in because they are taking our jobs. That is true to a certain point, I mean I remember when you saw local kids cutting lawns for cash and other less well off working in jobs that you see illegal immigrants in. At the same time, we're not producing babies at rates to sustain what will be needed in future payouts in things like Social Security.

Like you said, look at Europe, particularly Italy! Or better yet, go to the Pacific and see Japan. China is also, with their anti-female attitudes and one-child policy, in for a rude wake up call in several years.

It's a bitter pill for me to swallow. We need to control the border, and help those who legally should be here to land some jobs even if it's cutting grass (manufacturing jobs would be better though ;) ) . But they're here, and the political cost to reinitiate something like Operation Wetback would be too great. Legally, the children, commonly known as "anchor babies" due have a right to be here. And this will be the case until there is a change in the constitution.

Here in Chicago, the immigrants here come from all over, legal or not, and for the most part are very productive. We used to have neighborhoods that were rotting away from either "White Flight" or just economic neglect. These folks came in and started up new stores, new businesses...commerce! The have purchased cars, consumer goods, food and have paid rent. Yes, they cost us as well, one need only look at California. But longer term, these kids adapt. I went to college in Chicago, and sat next to second and third generation hispanic kids who knew more English than they did Spanish, that is they could understand their parents speaking it, but they could hardly reply in kind.

Like I said, it's a very bitter pill. I can see, from a labor point of view, that an influx of immigrants plays havoc with the supply/demand issue. The fact is, for a certain set of work skills, the demand at union-scale wages is not where it used to be. A lot of homebuilding jobs have illegals working as carpenters, the company behind them could hire union carpenters, but to them the market says he can get "cheaper." We can say how they should clamp down on this, but Robert, you know the system is broken. I live in one of the biggest union towns, and there is more illegal non-union construction work going on here than ever before. My only consolation is that we will be able to take some taxes out of them to fund our liabilities, though that really isn't saying much.

Wow...I actually feel worse writing this. Sorry.


watching the struggle in stream of consciousness

It's a tough topic, but I look at it this way, the U.S. is the top destination plus has the most liberal immigration in the world.

So, ya know, it's very obvious right now we have way too much of a good thing.

You'll hear just insane crap on how displacing Americans creates jobs...uh, no it doesn' displaces Americans.

Those immigrants who actually create jobs....they will always get in, we have special categories of Visas for them (like the O-1).

So, having a controlled immigration policy that is actually paying attention to supply/demand and the labor market I just don't think is such an issue. There will always been refugee status immigration and families and all sorts of stuff.

You have to see it by the numbers and the numbers, which this author points out are clearly a flood.

Then, it's so well documented that Indian outsourcers are using guest worker Visas to displace U.S. workers...

Many countries, including India btw, severely limited their immigration during this time period and for precisely the reason said by this author....

so my attitude is "let's get real". It really does affect jobs, labor markets and when you're talking 20 million illegals alone or 2 million green cards....well, one can see this is a major factor to affect labor markets.

A curtail isn't "shut the door" and frankly no nation can take on the entire world's population. Another thing this points to is that philosophy can be very detrimental economically.

For the most part yes

Virtually every country has a strict immigration policy, well minus certain European ones. Even Mexico has a more stringent immigration policy than we do! America has laws and the tools to enforce it's immigration policy. The problem, the real problem in my opinion, is that we lack the political will to do enact and enforce these measures. Secondly, the situation regarding the illegal population has grown so large, and I dare say intricate with regards to children being born here, that the solutions themselves grow more "interesting." This is problem is enhanced by the fact that we have economic traitors attempting to prolong the situation if not make it worse to their economic gain.


There are some good issues on the other side though

For instance, our "liberal immigration policy" could stand to join the 21st century and automate it's bureaucracy somewhat- I guarantee you that if guest visas and green card applications were available on the World Wide Web an application as bad as this one would have been rejected by server-side scripting with nobody having to look at it at all. And in so doing, "good immigrants" who are trying to come to this country legally, could have their visa in 30 seconds or less instead of 3 years or more.

Having said that, though, the demographics argument doesn't hold water for me. If you're truly worried about declining population in the northern hemisphere, have more children!

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

A bad argument, though

When you realize that our population loss, right now, is only a half-million working age people a year and we're taking in 2 million LEGAL immigrants every year. Or at least, that's the number of immigration-track and guest worker visas we issue.

Like in international trade, we need some balance. And balance right now would be to close the borders for the 14 years it will take for population demographics to catch up with job loss over the past year.
Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

economic traitors

Winking at rule breaking starts somewhere deep among policy makers, no? I think I'm becoming a fatalist, darn it. You bet this era of laissez-faire which purports to rely upon self-interest and game theory has left the door wide open for brigands. At least Greenspan apologized. We are now truly unsteady about where and how to put rules that reduce exploitation and mediate distortions. We haven't discussed where to place boundaries in several decades. Argued maybe, waved flags, but not clearly used our government nor chastised the tricksters. Wisdom ahead, but I think tough challenges for a generation too. Sorry to generalize.

Not too long ago I was at

Not too long ago I was at Cisco's San Jose CA Headquarters.
That was a revelation. It seems every 2nd/3rd person was Indian or Paki. All by design I'm sure. All by Ciso applying political pressure on Government to increase visa quotas, I'm POSITIVE.
-- are either a US based company or you are not. None of this BS of your too smart MBA execs thinking they can play all sides/angles off against each other and prosper.
Fellow US citizens...this type of activity from a number of US companies has been going on for the last 30 years. Its resulted in CEO salary going from approximately 50 times line worker to 250 times. Its resulted in ostensibly US based companies hiding their tax liabilities even while they cut US based jobs and increased profits. Its resulted in the decimation of well paying US jobs. Its resulted in a small percentage of the population getting richer at the expense of the majority. They did this by buying Government.

Get involved and stop this... for your own survival.

another site

I find people like you, all of the time, posting comments, hunting for posts. I know I did not send this particular story out at all to any professional labor group, yet we're getting comments from people who are obviously techies, even though we're an econ blog.

So, that said, I tried to put up a community site,, to get people to start writing and discussing just these sorts of experiences.

The real problem is Professional labor will not organize so they continuously get stomped on, so often with guest worker Visas and manipulation of the immigration system.

Silicon Valley Awfulness

I appreciate your sharing about Cisco Systems, Inc. John Cisco's John Chambers has single-handedly given more jobs to foreign guest workers than most companies; others are listed below.

John Chambers has also just recently participated in getting the Commerce Department to "waive" the Buy America provision of the Stimulus Bill for Broadband. Do a google search on "broadband" and "stimulus bill" and "waiver"... it's disgusting.

I find Chambers particularly offensive since he made no apologies about telling his employees to go work in India during a quarterly earnings meeting. My former colleague was so disgusted, she left for another job. In a similar light, I met an Indian women who had been in the area for 15 years. She told me her cousin was in HR at Cisco and that even though she found very good, qualified "UC" (read: University of California) graduates, that the Cisco management chain would reject her UC citizen applicants from the UC system saying they were "too expensive"...

At the same time that John Chambers of Cisco is slamming American high-tech workers, he is actively and behind-the-scenes trying to get a publically-funded 49er football stadium built in the city of Santa Clara. The 49er football team has as it's PR person, Ms. Lang, wife of Stanford endowment fund fundraiser -- huge Rushlican. Yep, John Chambers wants a football stadium in his backyard and is working to get the 49ers south of San Francisco in order to put his name on the stadium. It is very disgusting.

Sun Microsystems (McNealy), Oracle (Ellison), eBay/Paypal (Meg Whitman), HP (Carly Firoina), Agilent, BMC, Motorola, Yahoo, and Juniper Networks all have predominantly guest foreign workers in their Silicon Valley offices.

According to the Census nearly 30% of the population in Santa Clara County is now Asian ( 30% are citizens because there is far more than 30% of the population that is from some part of Asia in the county. The county is overcroweded; housing is still very, very expensive and development is continuing. Condo complexes are/were being built and squeezed into every square corner (note that the building has slowed this year.)

In closing I would like to leave you with these thoughts:

o when an American high-tech job is offshored to a third-world country, the corporation is offshoring not a job, but an American family.

o when an American high-tech employee is laid off/fired/gotten rid of in favor of a low-wage foreign guest worker, that high-tech employee and their family have no other country (read: no other "home" to go back to). If a low-wage foreign guest worker is laid off, they, in most cases, can go to their home country and live well... the American has no other country to go "home" to --- to live in --- to make a life in ...

It's really serious and really sad...

Obama Has To Give Us Our Jobs Back

Obama has to confront the two main problems why Americans and Locals don't have jobs: Market Flooded by Guest Workers and Outsourcing. Some say that illegals also contribute to unemployment if you are in the landscaping or construction business. Sooner or later Obama has to make a choice help Americans get jobs or help foreign countries.