2009 September 07 Monday
Myth Of Jobs Americans Won't Do

The editors of the Christian Science Monitor note that the so-called "jobs American's won't do" do not exist.

Recent recessions have been short enough that jobless Americans who rely on government benefits waited for a "good job" to return. But this "Great Recession" has been long and deep. The unemployment rate has doubled from 4.7 to 9.4 percent, and it may keep rising into next year. Many layoffs appear permanent as whole industries have collapsed and new fields, such as clean energy, are slow to emerge. The percentage of Americans "mal-employed" working below their skill or education is higher than in recent recessions.

With people desperate for income, downward mobility may be on the way up. News reports show long lines of applicants for a janitor's job or for work at a factory after a federal raid clears out the illegal workers.

Maybe it's a myth that Americans won't take certain jobs. In fact, a study by the Center for Immigration Studies used 2005-07 data to look at 465 occupations. Only four had a majority of immigrants in them: plasterers and stucco masons, agricultural graders and sorters, personal appliance workers, and tailors and dressmakers.

In every other occupation, such as janitors, maids, and groundskeepers, a large majority were filled by native-born Americans. The report's conclusion: "The often-made argument that immigrants only take jobs Americans don't want is simply wrong."

In what sort of economic environment would our elites like to implement a new immigration amnesty? Americans are taking jobs that teens would normally do. The teenage unemployment rate is a record 25.5%. Highest in over 60 years.

This August, the teenage unemployment rate that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.

The US economy does not have enough jobs for relatively smarter people (not that the average college grad is as smart as, say, 50 years ago) and so the smarter people are displacing dumber people from low skilled jobs.

Recent college graduates, unable to find higher-paying jobs, are working at places like Starbucks and Gap, taking jobs once held by their younger peers. Half of college graduates under age 25 are in jobs that do not require college degrees, the highest portion in at least 18 years, Mr. Sum said.

We should stop lower IQ immigration. Our economy runs on higher IQs. The intellectually most capable workers create the new wealth and the new industries and jobs.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 September 07 10:47 PM  Immigration Labor Market


Comments
Black Death said at September 8, 2009 5:53 AM:

I live in a state with a very high unemployment rate. As I drive around the beautiful countryside, I note that the fruit and vegetable harvest is well underway. The fields are full of Hispanic agricultural workers. Legal? Illegal? Who knows? But I bet that there are lots of Americanos who would like to give these jobs a try, especially if they paid a decent wage.

Engineer-Poet said at September 9, 2009 6:11 PM:

If the price of the ESL education, jail for drunken drivers, courts for the wife-beaters and everything else was rolled into the price of avocados and chicken parts, most US citizens would be really happy to pay for the X-ray-eyed robots to cut and pack meat.

It would also produce much better jobs.  Would you rather slice up beef, or build or service the beef-slicing robot... or write the software which runs it?  What kind of job pays wages which can sustain a decent standard of living for society?

Anyone who says there are jobs Americans won't do needs to be told that they're almost certainly wrong, and even if they are right, no human should be doing those jobs anyway.

moss said at September 10, 2009 4:06 PM:

The article is wrong....the jobs you cite are generally team jobs..agriculture, process working,buiding, where shared language and work culture help make the tedium pass.
Such workers work in groups often with a head man who organises the work. Not a place for individuals of a different stroke.
Who is going to work as a team picking your veggies in the sweltering Cal valleys? Blacks? Swipples? yeah right.

MaryJ said at September 11, 2009 7:38 AM:

moss,

I thought "diversity" was a "strength." Now you are saying that "shared language and culture" help make the work go faster. Or is it only when whites predominate in an industry where "diversity" is a "strength" and "shared language and culture" doesn't matter?

Moss said at September 12, 2009 3:25 AM:

My point is that I can't see the teams of Mexican agricultural workers in California being replaced by US born workers. That is if the consumer still wants cheap food.
Not the way agriculture is organised now.
Sure, small family-owned organic farms are helped out by idealistic middle class 'interns', but once the scale of production and mechanisation reaches a certain level, even on organic farms, then one can expect to see immigrant labour teams. The work is just too hard and relentless, and by definition the middle-class is just not desperate enough, at least not yet.

Engineer-Poet said at September 12, 2009 2:43 PM:

I can see the hordes of Mexican field workers being replaced by machines.  There are no concerns about the treatment of people who pick lettuce if the lettuce-picker came out of a John Deere factory.  The better things like machine vision get, the easier it is to substitute for low-skilled labor.

Randall Parker said at September 12, 2009 9:25 PM:

Moss, See my post Americans Competing For Farm Jobs.

Cheap food: A doubling of farm worker pay would not increase food costs by much. Many other costs make field laborer costs a small part of the total: farm equipment, fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, fuel, transportation, freezers, etc.

Where There Is Smoke said at September 13, 2009 9:14 AM:

Randall, you are right about the doubling of ag wages. It isn't that US citizens won't work in many of those jobs, it's that they can't afford to accept those wages.

Meatpacking wages have declined by almost half since the 80's. Male college students used to work construction in the summer to off-set their expenses. Those jobs go to cheap foreign labor now - often illegal labor.

Also lot of farm-labor could be replaced by mechanization, but why would ag-biz buy equipment which it has to maintain, store, fix, "feed", etc when it can simply hire illegal aliens at starvation wages and then pass the costs onto the community at large? If a machine breaks down, Farmer Ag-biz has to pay to have it fixed; if his farm-labor gets hurt, he dumps him off at the local ER. Farmer Ag-biz can't gas up his machinery at a food bank, but his farm-labor can certainly go there. An expensive machine requires shelter, maintainence, etc; how Farmer Ag-biz's farm-labor takes care of his shelter and maintenance is not Farmer Ag-biz's problem. If his farm-labor crams 20 to a house in some neighborhood, it won't be Farmer Ag-biz's neighborhood. Naturally machinery doesn't produce offspring which requires years of care at community expense and then joins gangs.

MaryJ said at September 13, 2009 10:34 AM:

moss: Most farmwork in California 30 years ago was done by native-born whites. I should know: my family were among them. Even today, there are just not that many jobs out in the hinterlands for teen-agers and college students looking to pick up some extra money.

Asher said at October 13, 2009 1:30 PM:

Yes, actually, young black males are the perfect latent work force to work the fields.

Iremovedthetag said at August 22, 2010 1:37 PM:

I am so glad to find this article. Tired of that cliche. No, Americans won't take jobs that don't pay a living wage, because they are not willing--nor should they be--to live 5 or 6 men in a 1-bedroom apartment and sleep in shifts, working 3 jobs each, to pay the rent and buy food.

So long as we allow employers to hire illegals and not pay a living wage for life in that area, then we'll continue to have this mythology.


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