Filed Under:  Business

Studies disagree on whether immigration hurts Blacks

16th February 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Could a new report arguing that the United States has accepted two new immigrants for each additional job created since 2000 affect support amongst African Ameri­cans for an immigration reform bill?

Using federal labor department data, the Center for Immigration Studies noted 18 million legal and illegal immigrants settled in the United States from 2000 to 2015, while only 9.3 million additional jobs were created.

After subtracting deaths, departures and retirements among the immigrants, the working-age population of immigrants grew 12 million since 2000, according to data at the Bureau of Labor Standards, said Steve Camarota, the author of the CIS study, to the website The Daily Caller.

The working-age population of Americans aged 16 to 65 also grew by 16 million, Camarota continued. That’s a combined working-age population increase of 28 million, which is three times the number of jobs added since 2000.

That should mean fewer jobs created, and according to reform opponents, less minority support for an immigration bill this year. However, countering these statistics, as of December 2014, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, and the Black unemployment rate, the minority group most affected by low-wage immigration, decreased from 11 percent in November to 10.4 percent in December. (The jobless rate for white workers ticked down 0.1 percent to 4.8 percent in December, according to the latest jobs report by the Labor Department.)

The unemployment rate for Black men over 20 years old ticked down from 11.2 percent to 11 percent in December while the unemployment rate for white men fell from 4.6 to 4.4 percent over that period.

The unemployment rate for Black women over 20 years old slid from 9.5 percent in November to 8.2 percent in December and white women saw their unemployment rate inch down from 4.5 percent to 4.4 percent during the same period.

The Labor Department also revised the number of jobs added in October (261,000) and Nov­ember (353,000), accounting for an increase of 50,000 jobs.

American workers found jobs in professional and business services, as well as construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing in December. The latter areas are prime employment categories for the newly immigrated to the United States.

Yet, while jobs are up, pay is down. “Median household income, on average, has fallen nine percent since the turn of the century,” The New York Times reported in January, fueling the ammunition of immigration critics the wages of declined because of supply and demand in the labor market.

Columnist Neil Munro noted the new CIS study could strength in opposition on Capitol Hill to any immigration bill since “extra immigrants are mostly poor, drive up taxpayers’ costs for welfare spending and are crowding into classrooms and spiking state and local education budgets.”

“The public is increasingly hostile to extra immigration,” he continued, “even as respondents tell pollsters that they value the American tradition of immigration and also that they respect immigrants. The contrast between public statements and private voting was demonstrated in the Democratic stronghold of Oregon, where Americans voted in November by two-to-one to deny drivers licenses to illegals. A January 2015 Gallup poll showed that only seven percent of Americans want a higher rate of immigration, despite minimal media coverage about the scale of immigration.”

“One reason for the low support for additional immigration is migrants’ willingness to take jobs at lower pay than Americans. In part, they take lower wages because their pay will be effectively increased by the government’s subsequent award of citizenship to them. That’s a hugely valuable deferred payment to migrants, their children and their retirement-age parents.”

“American citizens, however, can’t get citizenship as deferred wages. Instead, they must ask employers to pay their full wages — except for welfare payments — which puts them at a disadvantage in the labor market.”

This has led to a small, but surprisingly growing chorus in the African-American community in opposition to the legalization efforts of Pres. Barack Obama. Black attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Peter Kirsanow, in a 2013 letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote, “The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants. The answer is no.” Kirsanow’s statistics argued that immigration impacts the wages and employment opportunities of black males and hurts the Black community.

It’s the same theme the new Center for Immigration Studies report echoes. The percentage of working-age, native-born Americans who are in the labor market has fallen from 76.0 percent in 2000 down to 71.5 percent in 2014, according to the CIS study. The trend has pushed 13 million additional Americans out of the workforce since 2000.

In other words, as of November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs in January 2010.

Since 2009, the normal immigrant inflow of one million per year has been boosted by the distribution of roughly 7.4 million work-permits to illegals, refugees, tourists and other categories of foreigners.

That 7.4 million is in addition to the roughly four million working-age immigrants among the 6 million legal immigrants who have arrived since 2009, adding roughly 11.4 million new foreign workers to the labor market since Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

“During the same period, roughly 26 million young Americans joined the workforce in search of the jobs needed to pay off college debts, to buy houses and to start families,” Munro maintained. “That means roughly one working-age immigrant has entered the labor market for every two or three young Americans who turn 18 during Obama’s six-year tenure.”

Despite these figures however, after three consecutive months of the economy adding more than 25,000 jobs, the Black unemployment rate could dip below 10 percent by mid-2015 if current trends continue, Valerie Wilson, an economist and director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) at Economic Policy Institute, explained to the NNPA last month.

When Wilson analyzed the labor force participate rate, which includes people that currently hold jobs or are looking for work and the employment-population ratio for all workers, she found that Blacks had the biggest increase in both measures from December 2013 to December 2014.

This article originally published in the February 16, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.