Real wages for low-skilled workers are now growing at the fastest rate in memory, at least partially due to immigration policies yielding a tight labor market. Yet a top White House official nonetheless stated last week that the United States is “desperate” for more immigrants, apparently contradicting President Trump’s position.
As the Washington Post reports, “Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told a crowd at a private gathering in England on Wednesday night that the Trump administration ‘needs more immigrants’ for the U.S. economy to continue growing, according to an audio recording of his remarks obtained by The Washington Post.”
“‘We are desperate — desperate — for more people,’ Mulvaney said. ‘We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants,’” the paper continued.
“Mulvaney’s remarks appear in contrast to the public position of several top figures in Trump’s White House — especially that of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller — who have been working to slash legal and illegal immigration through a slew of policies that aim to close off the U.S. border to foreigners,” the Post also informs. “They have insisted that the steady arrival of newcomers depresses wages for the blue-collar U.S. workers whose votes helped lift Trump to the presidency in 2016.”
They thus insist because it’s true. Note that socialist senator Bernie Sanders used to take this position as well — before it became politically unpalatable to the now “woke” Democrat electorate. Moreover, late head of the United Farm Workers union and erstwhile left-wing hero Cesar Chavez was a staunch opponent of illegal migration for the same reason.
President Trump also has taken this position, and his immigration efforts have improved workers’ fortunes, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson pointed out on his program Friday.
“From 1979 to 2013 real wages for low-skilled workers dropped by five percent,” said Carlson, providing some background. Yet wages “for low-skilled workers are growing at the fastest rate in memory right now, nearly five percent a year,” he related shortly afterwards. “For those at the very bottom of the labor pool, those without high-school diplomas, wages went up a full 10 percent last year.”
These growing wages are the result of a “tight labor market,” Carlson explained, saying “immigration to our country is down; employment is up. That means there are fewer available workers; therefore, employers must pay higher wages to those workers.”
“It’s called supply and demand,” he continued, “the most basic principle in economics. It’s also the healthiest and most efficient way to share the wealth. It does what socialism claims to do — but without hurting people” (video below). I’ll add that it’s the conservative way of spreading the wealth around.
In reality, there are good people who embrace the “We need more workers,” immigration=prosperity thesis, but this position ignores certain realities.
First, the United States’ population stands at 330 million and continuously increases — but only because of immigration (our birthrate is now below replacement level). Do we want an ever more crowded nation and movement toward Soylent Green Central? When is enough, enough? When the population is 500 million? One billion? More? This is seldom discussed.
Second, the unemployment number is deceptive. Following a formula in use for decades, it doesn’t, for example, count unemployed people so hopeless that they’ve given up seeking a job (click here for more details).
In truth, approximately 95 million Americans are still not in the labor force. Since this figure includes retiring Baby Boomers, it’s not as bad as it sounds; nonetheless, the alleged worker dearth is likely not as bad as it sounds, either.
Moreover, we continually hear how artificial intelligence/robots will displace many American workers (perhaps 36 million) in the not-too-distant future. This means that the only thing importing high numbers of low-skilled workers may guarantee for tomorrow is a large, unemployed, statism-supporting underclass.
In addition, immigration affects high-skilled workers, too. It came to light during the Obama administration that corporations were using the H1B visa system to replace skilled American employees (e.g., tech workers) with foreigners willing to work for less. For salt in the wound, the companies sometimes even forced the American citizens to train their replacements.
Lastly, if we do at times need imported workers, they should be admitted via temporary work visas with a five-year limit, and we should ensure they then return home. Entering as a worker should not be an automatic path to citizenship, something leftists love since the vast majority of our new arrivals vote Democrat upon naturalization (and sometimes before).
Of course big business wants cheap labor, and of course politicians want ready-made votes. But ours is a nation to be loved, not just an opportunity-land be looted — and greed and power lust don’t translate into good policy.
Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The New American for more than a decade. He has also written for The Hill, Observer, The American Conservative, WorldNetDaily, American Thinker, and many other print and online publications. In addition, he has contributed to college textbooks published by Gale-Cengage Learning, has appeared on television, and is a frequent guest on radio.