April produced another lousy Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report. Superficially—in other words, the way the White House wants Wall Street to perceive it, conditions are improving. The 288,000 new jobs were more than economists expected. Another bonus for the administration: the unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 to 6.3 percent.
But by merely scratching beneath the surface, the official data shows that April represents yet another in an unbroken string of reports that should set off alarm bells for jobless Americans, especially recent college graduates.
The Economic Policy Institute has done extensive research on what it calls “missing workers” among the nation’s youth. Missing workers are defined as potential workers who are neither employed nor actively seeking employment because of the weak labor market. In April, almost a quarter or 1.4 million of the nation’s 6.2 million missing workers are under age 25. According to EPI’s research, the true unemployment rate for young workers is 18.4 percent.
Because 40 percent of recent college graduates can’t find jobs that justify their years of education and their hefty tuition debt, neither can they afford house down payments or even, in many cases, rent. As a result, more young adults are living with their parents than at any time than before the Great Recession.
The broader BLS picture is even more discouraging. Overall, the economy is reeling. During the first quarter of 2014, the economy inched microscopically higher at a miserable annualized 0.1 percent. More than 3.7 million Americans have been out of work more than six months and 3.6 million earn the minimum wage. In total, the U.S. labor force has a 7 million job deficit.
The Labor Department’s household survey which measures the percentage of Americans 16 and older who are actively seeking employment or who have a job registered 62.8 percent, down from March’s 63.2 percent March, a more telling statistic than the official unemployment rate. More than 92 million Americans are out of the labor force.
During 2013, in 20 percent of America’s 80.4 families, no one worked, a total of 16.1 million people. For the lucky few who did the National Employment Law Project identified low-paying health care, food services and retail industries as the most active employers. Since 2010, lower wage industries accounted for 44 percent of total employment. Going back six years earlier through today, the U.S. has added 1.85 million jobs in low-wage industries while mid-wage and higher-wage industries have each lost nearly 1 million positions.
Despite the relentlessly grim jobs reports and the ongoing lip service Congress pays to job creation, not a day goes by without a news story about the alleged urgency of passing a comprehensive immigration bill that would flood the labor market with literally millions of new workers.
The unemployed, whether young or old, would have to compete with 12 million illegal immigrants who would be granted immediate work authorization. Currently, because of their alien status, those 12 million are legally unemployable.
Instead of considering admitting legal immigrants based on America’s national interest, the legislation would also grant 33 million green cards in the next decade alone, more than have been granted over the forty years between 1972 and 2012. In addition to those 33 million, the bill would bring in millions more guest workers and their families who would mostly work at lower wage jobs that many at risk American minorities now do.
If an immigration bill passes, it will flood the market with workers who won’t be able to find jobs because so few are available. America would find itself in the irreversible position of having a glut of under-skilled workers earning the minimum wage and a surplus of skilled workers without matching jobs, a sure-fire formula for economic disaster.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org