Wednesday, February 26, 2020

There is no American worker shortage

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"We're full, our system's full, our country's full!" That was President Donald Trump last year at our southern border.

"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families." That was Trump in January 2017 at his inaugural address.

"The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult … to earn a middle-class wage." That was presidential candidate Trump in 2016.

Contrast those clarion "America First" statements with the apparent hysteria of Trump's current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was caught on tape telling a private audience of elites in England last week: "We are desperate – desperate – for more people. 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."

Mulvaney reportedly went on to push for "expanding" merit- and employment-based immigration to fill all the high-skilled jobs Americans purportedly aren't capable of filling. By how much, for how long, in which visa categories and under what conditions this "expansion" should happen, Mulvaney is not reported to have detailed. (He will be featured at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning. It would be nice if someone asked him to elaborate, wouldn't it?)

"Running out of people" is typical Beltway swamp talk from a big business lobbyist trafficking in open borders "Chicken Little" alarmism. Has Mulvaney opened a newspaper or browsed the internet in the last 10 years? How about the last week? Over a 48-hour period, I compiled a Twitter thread of more than 50 stories of tens of thousands of recent U.S. worker layoffs in tech and other high-skilled industries. Among the U.S. corporations and institutions responsible for laying off, replacing, offshoring and outsourcing tens of thousands of American jobs:

Wayfair, TripAdvisor, LogMeIn, Inc., Zume Pizza, VMWare, Shutterfly, Intel, Comcast, Xilinx, 23andMe, NortonLifeLock, AT&T, Macy's, Walgreens, Uber, Lyft, UCSF Medical Center, Baptist Health, Sysco, WeWork, American Family Insurance, Tennessee Valley Authority, Amway, UPS subsidiary Coyote Logistics, Comcast, Lime, Bird, Unicorn, Getaround, Cerner, Oracle, Samsung US,, Textron Aviation, Morgan Stanley, Spirit AeroSystems, Mozilla, UiPath, Plexus, Cisco,, Clover Health, State Street Corporation, Anthem, Transamerica, Verizon, MassMutual, Disney, Carnival, Abbott Labs, EmblemHealth, Harley Davidson, Cargill, Eversource Energy, Best Buy, Southern California Edison and Qualcomm.

The most recent entry in my U.S. worker layoffs thread came in Monday from Expedia, which announced it is laying off 12% of its information technology workforce (roughly 3,000), including 500 employees at its Seattle headquarters. Tip of the iceberg. As leading American workers' employment attorney and Protect US Workers advocate Sara Blackwell points out, "so many companies are able to conduct this awful business model under the radar." And they get away with it because it's legal, workers are silenced, and most Americans "just do not care because it does not yet touch them personally."

Do we "need more immigrants," as Mulvaney claims? Marie Larson, an American mom who founded the American Workers Coalition with Barbara Birch and Hilarie Gamm, told me: "I talk to Americans almost daily who are being discriminated against, who keep getting laid off by Indian managers, who have to train their foreign replacements to get the much-needed severance packages, who have to pull kids out of college because they can't afford it, even having to sell their houses. These are STEM workers, who got the 'right' degrees and did everything they were supposed to do, only to have our government turn their back and sell out to big businesses push for even more H-1Bs." Tech firms cut 64,166 American jobs in 2019, up 351% from 14,230 in 2018.

Are we so "desperate" for more bodies to "fuel economic growth"? Let's recap the demographic math: We live in a nation of 330 million, 44 million of whom are foreign-born. Upward of 30 million immigrants are currently living, working and going to school here illegally. One million new legal immigrants are granted green cards every year. An estimated 600,000 temporary worker visas are issued annually, including the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B and H-4 programs. That doesn't include spousal visas or the more than half a million foreign "students" now working through the stealth guest worker plan known as the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign students to work with little monitoring, no wage protections, no payment of Social Security payroll taxes and no requirement for employers to demonstrate labor market shortages.

"We" ordinary Americans don't need more immigrants. Corporations (and their trusty house organ, the Wall Street Journal) want higher profits, lower wages and endless pipelines of cheap foreign labor. They've been cooking up manufactured worker shortage crises since World War II and crying apocalypse since the 1980s, when the National Science Foundation's Erich Bloch hyped a STEM shortage based on groundless projections to crusade for agency budget increases.

Remember: The only persistent tech worker shortage in America is a shortage of workers at the wage employers want to pay. Beltway swampers gnashing their teeth over barren American worker recruitment pools are full of it.


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