Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Do illegal aliens take American jobs

In any discussion of immigration policy, the claim is made that illegal aliens or immigrants in general take jobs from Americans.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently made this claim when addressing the decision of the president to phase out DACA (link). Is that correct?

Obviously there are some illegal aliens or legal immigrants working at low skill jobs that would be filled by Americans if the illegal aliens were not available.  However, there are many jobs that would simply not exist without cheap labor.  Americans are not going to go to Florida and pick tomatoes in the hot sun for minimum wage. If we did not have the labor to  pick those tomatoes, then we would import more tomatoes from Mexico.  In may cases, we would either import the workers or import the products but in any case we are importing the labor.

I have often thought that America would be a lot less pretty place without illegal aliens. What I am talking about is that almost all yard maintenance and landscaping crews are made up of Hispanics. I don't know if they are legal or not, but I assume they are illegal.  I have been noticing this for some years.  Also, I have observed that there has been a dramatic growth in yard maintenance.  This is probably not a documentable fact because a lot of yard maintenance is done under the table.  It is either not reported or underreported as income.

I have worked for many years in a job that including providing financial advice to clients. Part of what I would do in this position is examine a households spending.  I have noticed as time goes by that fewer and fewer people cut their own grass but hire it done. The most often quoted price that people tell me they pay is $40 every two weeks.

When one points out that Americans would not pick Florida tomatoes in the hot sun and that we would have fewer people to do lawn care, critics will say we could get Americans to do those jobs if they paid more.  If we paid what Americans would require to do the lawn care, the price would not be $40 per cut, but $60 or $80.  There is a limit to what homeowners will pay for someone to do a low skilled job they can do themselves. Those jobs would not go to Americans, those jobs would just go away.

If those jobs just go away then the economic impact and the multiplier effect of that economic activity goes away.  Someone who now has a job because they provide goods and services to people who make a living providing lawn care, would then lose their job.

The argument that immigrants take American jobs takes looks at the economy as static.  That assumes that there are only X number of jobs available. While America may be less economically free and dynamic than it used to be, we are still relatively free. New services and innovations can come into existence without central planners allowing it or providing for it. We do not have a planned economy and jobs are not assigned. I think the argument that immigrants are taking American jobs is based on the same static view of the economy that says there is only so much wealth available and it is up to government to ensure everyone gets their fair share.

When you believe the pie is only so big it becomes more important to argue over the size of the slices.  When you believe the pie is only so big, it becomes important to make sure no one gets your slice.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

No comments:

Post a Comment