3:36 PM, Jun 17, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Can American workers “cut it” in today’s labor market? Not according to an anonymous aide for Marco Rubio, who was recently quoted by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker making the case for the Senate’s immigration reform bill.
“There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer,” the unnamed aide told Lizza. “There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it.” The “it,” here, is the sort of low-paying, labor-intensive work that Latino immigrants in cities and towns across the country are doing.
Rubio has already denounced the comment, and a (presumably different) aide told the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis that Rubio “has always said the reason we need a robust temporary worker program is to create legal avenues for US businesses to meet labor needs when not enough Americans apply for jobs.”
Put aside the political damage the particular quotation may have done as Rubio and other immigration-reform advocates try to convince skeptical conservatives to support their proposal. Is it actually true that more immigrants are needed to fill the jobs “real” Americans refuse to take?
I recently spent a week in northwestern North Dakota, where an oil boom is bringing an unprecedented amount of economic growth and societal change to the area. The boom hasn’t sparked growth in just the energy sector--real estate, construction, health care, retail, hospitality, infrastructure, and tourism are all booming, too. The downside, particularly for native North Dakotans, is that prices have shot up for everything from groceries to rent to gasoline. The upside is that wages across all those industries are up, as well, including those for low-skill workers. The Walmart in Williston, for example, is hiring entry-level employees at no less than $17.50 an hour, and fast-food employees can expect wages in the same ballpark. Construction crews pay well, and so do hotels for maids and cleaning staff. Through word-of-mouth, unemployed or underemployed Americans are flocking to North Dakota to get hired.
So those jobs that Americans “can’t” and “won’t” do, the jobs that only immigrant labor can fill, the jobs that require the passage of a large legislative package hammered out among representatives of Big Labor and Big Business? In North Dakota, at least, they’re being filled by Americans from Florida and Wisconsin and Washington and Arizona and Texas and Minnesota. It’s true that some of them are Hispanic immigrants, but many, perhaps even most, aren’t. They’re not all young men in their twenties, either. Many I met are middle-aged, blue-collar Americans who were out of options and opportunities back home. Migrating to rural North Dakota, with no connections and meager prospects, these workers have taken significant risks to find work. And they might be outraged to hear a staff member of a U.S. senator in Washington suggest that they and others like them “can’t cut it.”
What North Dakota shows is that Americans will do these jobs, if the jobs are available and the wages are right.
9:09 AM, Jun 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse blamed the latest jobs report on the sequester and the Republicans:
8:31 AM, Jun 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The unemployment rate ticked up, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 175,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, and retail trade.
Household Survey Data
Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.8 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6 percent, were essentially unchanged in May. (See table A-1.)
12:00 AM, May 25, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
At the conclusion of a lunch at the British embassy here in Washington, Britain’s ambassador, Sir Peter Westmacott, asked each of the four scribbler-economists he had invited to give his forecasts for the year.
12:00 AM, May 18, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
"Trade makes the cake bigger so everyone can benefit.” So advised our distinguished visitor, British prime minister David Cameron, on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal.
12:00 AM, May 11, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Governments everywhere are on the prowl for more revenues. French president François Hollande wants to tax incomes in excess of €1 million at a 75 percent rate. Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has jacked up VAT.
9:19 AM, May 8, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The people are speaking, through a Gallup Poll, and as Daniel Strauss writes in the Hill, they aren't talking any language the political class understands:
12:00 AM, May 4, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
A funny thing happened to our dysfunctional government. It functioned, unwittingly perhaps, but function it did. President Obama forced Republicans, unwilling to risk the political consequences of taking America over the fiscal cliff, to accept a $180 billion tax increase.
8:45 AM, May 3, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Today's big number is non-farm payrolls. And, thus, the unemployment rate for the previous month. The economists surveyed by Reuters called for 145,000 jobs and an unemployment rate at 7.6 percent.
The numbers came in at 165,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. Pretty close.
8:31 AM, May 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the latest jobs numbers:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.
Household Survey Data
9:25 AM, May 1, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The first of this week's three big employment numbers was released this morning. Tomorrow, we will learn the first-time claims number. Friday, the unemployment number and rate for the previous month. As this item from Reuters indicates, the signs are not good:
12:00 AM, Apr 27, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter, well ahead of the paltry 0.4 percent in the final quarter of 2012.