by Mark Angelides
The cap that President Trump has refused to lift on H-2B visas has forced companies all over the United States to do the unthinkable and hire American workers! What’s worse is that they are complaining that they have to pay American workers more…Tell me again; didn’t someone say that immigration was good for Americans?
Is this not irrefutable evidence that the low-skilled (or living in low-opportunity areas) workers are being squeezed out of the job market by workers who are willing to take a lower wage? Isn’t this known as wage-suppression? The fact that employers are hiring people as seasonal workers for lower wages does not reflect well on them. It ignores the most key fact: Without a proper wage, no one can build a stake in their future.
Some may argue that a business owner should pay only what they have to; and this isn’t actually wrong. But the kind of economy this habit creates is one of low wages, transient workers, and desolate towns. The seasonal workers come in, collect their money, live in crowded cheap accommodation, and then move on. The money doesn’t stay in the local economy.
It is possible to take less of a wage if you are sharing a room with four other seasonal workers, but if you want to raise a family, or put down roots, then this kind of “gig-economy” just doesn’t help. We often hear how migrants are just looking to make a future in America…And I say well done to them! But if they continue to take jobs at lower wages (undercutting locals), then how will they ever have enough to make roots for themselves or their families? They are consigning themselves to a permanent life of seasonal work and transience.
This is not good for American workers, migrant Americans, or, in the long run, those on visas hoping to make a life in the US.
It is the companies that benefit. And I’m all for a company making money, but it needs to be done with an eye to the future, thinking about the towns and cities in which they operate. We can all argue about market forces, but if there is an unending oversupply of cheap labor, it is real people who end up suffering. The H-2B visa group is the slowest growing in terms of wage increases, and in some sectors of this group, the wages have even gone down. According to Politico, out of the top 10 H-2B categories, 9 showed lower wage growth than other areas, the exception being waiters and waitresses who saw a 20% increase from 2004 to 2016.
by Mark Angelides