2008 January 29 Tuesday
Hispanic Immigrants Lower Black Wages And Raise Black Unemployment

Steven Malanga describes rising black opposition to Hispanic immigration and what it costs blacks.

This Latino “tsunami,” as Los Angeles–based Hispanic-American writer Nicolás Vaca calls it, has intensified the well-founded feeling among blacks that they’re losing economic ground to immigrants. True, early research, conducted in the wake of the big immigration reforms of the 1960s, suggested that the arrival of newcomers had little adverse impact on blacks—one study found that every 10 percent increase in immigration cut black wages by only 0.3 percent. But as the immigrant population has in some places grown six or seven times larger over the last four decades, the downward pull has become a vortex. A recent study by Harvard economist George Borjas and colleagues from the University of Chicago and the University of California estimates that immigration accounted for a 7.4 percentage-point decline in the employment rate of unskilled black males between 1980 and 2000. Even for black males with high school diplomas, immigration shrank employment by nearly 3 percentage points. While immigration hurts black and white low-wage workers, the authors note, the effect is three times as large on blacks because immigrants are more likely to compete directly with them for jobs.

Blacks don't get deported as the Hispanics flood in. The blacks are still here in even worse shape than they were before. It is ridiculous to think we all come out ahead when our most impoverished group becomes even more impoverished and more idle.

Blacks used to be able to get jobs in janitorial work. It is low status work. But it is real necessary work. In LA the blacks have been replaced by Hispanics.

A case study of Los Angeles janitorial services cited in a Government Accounting Office report captures the enormity of the shift. It began in the late 1970s, as several small firms began hiring Mexican janitors at low pay, prompting building owners to drop contracts with the companies that employed blacks in favor of the cheaper upstarts. As the immigrant-dominated firms grabbed more business, industry wages slipped from a peak of $6.58 an hour in 1983 to $5.63 an hour in 1985. The number of black janitors in L.A. plummeted from about 2,500 in the late 1970s to only 600 by 1985. Today, the city’s janitorial industry, like apparel manufacturing and hotel services, is almost entirely immigrant.

We've already got the consequences of globalization where lower paid manufacturing work such as in the garment industry has mostly been sent abroad. For the remaining low paid work to get shifted over into the hands of a newly arrived group just makes a bad situation worse.

Body shop work used to earn a decent hourly wage in LA but no more.

Former mechanic Anderson felt the effects of low-wage immigrant competition in his old line of work. “I used to sell parts to body shops, and I knew Americans who were making $20 an hour repairing dented fenders,” he says. “Now, 95 percent of South Central L.A. body-shop jobs are held by recent immigrants making $7 or $8 an hour.” Says Joe Hicks, former chair of Los Angeles’s Human Relations Commission and now head of the nonprofit Community Advocates: “It’s hard to find a black face on a construction site or in a fast-food restaurant around here any more. People from the black community have noticed.”

The poor folks are going to vote for Robin Hood taxes that will make the open borders libertarians quite unhappy. Yet many of the libertarians will avoid connecting the dots, being strong in faith.

Blacks are getting ethnically cleansed from LA.

The Latino influx into formerly black-majority urban neighborhoods has sparked deadlier kinds of conflict. While most violent crime in these areas is still black-on-black or Latino-on-Latino, interethnic violence is mounting, and in some locales, much of it—perhaps surprisingly, given high overall black crime rates—is Hispanic-on-black. In the heavily mixed-race community of Harbor Gateway in Los Angeles, for example, Latinos now commit five times more violent crimes against blacks than vice versa. Countywide numbers are just as startling. Though blacks make up just 9 percent of L.A. County’s population, they were the victims of 59 percent of all racially motivated attacks in 2006, while Latinos committed 52 percent of all racially motivated attacks.

The problem for blacks looking to leave is to figure out where to go to. Huge growth in Hispanics in the Old South makes those states less appealing though probably still the best bet.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 January 29 08:30 PM  Immigration Economics

Anon said at January 30, 2008 9:05 AM:

Our elites have lost interest in blacks. They are no longer something to be fussed over and used. They have been replaced by their newest toy, the hispanics.

Audacious Epigone said at January 30, 2008 1:50 PM:

The blacks are still here in even worse shape than they were before. It is ridiculous to think we all come out ahead when our most impoverished group becomes even more impoverished and more idle.

A corollary to this is that, the smoke surrounding the criminality of immigrants in the US aside, this downward pressure on employment and wages among blacks increases black criminality and other pathologies. As you have related on more than one occasion, idle hands are the devil's workshop.

Bellflower said at January 31, 2008 9:12 AM:

The current election was custom made to stir up racial and class animosity. The afrocentric black candidate, the pro-hispanic immigration republican senator, the upper middle class white female candidate, and the upper middle class white male candidate.

fwood1 said at January 31, 2008 12:29 PM:

"Blacks are getting ethnically cleansed from LA."

Does this mean that the black population of LA county is declining? If so, are blacks relocating elsewhere in the metro area, or are they moving farther away (out of state, perhaps)?

c.o. jones said at January 31, 2008 12:59 PM:

Lots of them are going to the high desert and Moreno Valley, about 60 miles east of LA. Kind of ironic, because "moreno" is Spanish for "brown," and that's what is happening to Mo Val. The schools there have quite a bit of black vs. brown tension.

black sea said at February 3, 2008 6:00 AM:

A lot of blacks, as Randall indicated, are relocating to cities like Atlanta and Charlotte. The economic opportunites are pretty good, and they often have friends or family ties there. Thus far in Atlanta, where I live, I haven't seen evidence of the black/brown tension and violence that you hear about in LA. I'm not sayng there is none; I'm just saying the gang-driven turf fights are something I've not read or heard about here.

The History Channel is running a series called "Gangland." One episode, which was surprisingly frank, focused on ethnic gangs in California. Though the introduction paid lip service to the presence of white, black, asian, and hispanic gangs, it quickly became clear that the bulk of activity, particularly killings, went on between black and hispanic gangs. Apparently, the Mexican Mafia, which now controls large chunks of the California prison system, is exporting its ideology and methods to the hispanic street gangs, who target blacks in order to force them out the neighborhood, or at least out of the drug trade. Of course, much of it comes down to money, pure and simple.

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