More Fake News About Jobs: Part 2
Paul Craig Roberts
Yesterday’s column referred to a “rising labor force participation rate” when it should have read “falling labor force participation rate.” Those of you who read the column before I made the correction must have been puzzled, but, little doubt, figured it out from the context.
One of the main points of the article is that the number of payroll jobs are not the same thing as the number of employed Americans. Jobs have been trending toward part-time as this allows employers to avoid benefit costs. In order to make ends meet, many Americans work two or more part-time jobs. Therefore, the announcement on Friday of 148,000 new jobs does not mean 148,000 more employed Americans.
There is another problem with the payroll jobs. Although the figure is nonfarm and does not include imported agricultural labor, it does include immigrants on work visas, such as H-1B and L-1 visas. This means that job gains in information technology and software engineering, for example, might be job gains for immigrants on work visas and not for American citizens.
As the payroll jobs number reflects reported information on payroll taxes and unemployment insurance, citizens and immigrants are lumped together. The percentage of new jobs taken by immigrants on work visas is not broken out.
The householdl survey number, however, does estimate the numbers of foreign-born and American-born employees, but it does not specify the legal status of the foreign-born, that is, whether they are naturalized citizens, green card holders, or immigrants on work visas. The household survey numbers are interesting. There are 27.1 million foreign-born employees with jobs in the US and 131.2 million native-born American employees. This means that foreign-born employees are 20% of American-born employees. That foreign-born employees comprise one-fifth of American-born employees reflects either a high rate of immigration or a large number of foreign workers issued work visas.
In response to yesterday’s column, a reader wrote that he had seen a report last Thursday that the House of Representatives has passed a bill to allow unlimited numbers of people from India and China to be granted work visas for US programming jobs. The reader concludes that his job will soon be history and he will disappear into the ranks of the uncounted American unemployed.