On March 7, CAPS’ lead homepage story reported California’s slight January unemployment rate dip from 12.5 to 12.3 percent (not including those who have stopped looking for work or who are in part-time jobs but wanting full-time).
Nationally, unemployment has also dropped by a tiny fraction to 8.9 percent. While this is better news than increased unemployment would be, California is still left with three times above what economists consider full employment; the nation, two times above. Optimists feel that the 192,000 new non-farm jobs are reason to claim that the economy has turned around and that significant hiring will soon begin.
Since the two major culprits in the unemployment crisis remain firmly in place, a major uptick in employment is unlikely.
First, according to former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the United States needs to generate at least 125,000 new jobs a month to keep up with population growth. Ironically, 75 percent of U.S. population growth is fueled by increased immigration which the federal government refuses to limit. Reich adds gloomily that the United States needs an additional 175,000 jobs on top of the 125,000 to restore employment to its pre-recession levels.
Second, the federal government issues 125,000 new work permits monthly to legal immigrants, thus further depressing the employment market. The math adds up this way: 125,000 jobs to keep up with population growth plus the 125,000 green cards given to foreign-born workers equals 250,000 net new jobs required each month or 3,000,000 per year.
Coincidentally, 3,000,000 is the total new jobs President Barack Obama promised the nation during his 2008 campaign. As president, Obama could use his bully pulpit to influence Congress to end, or at least curtail, the devastating policy of allowing more legal immigration to the detriment of American workers.
Those hurt the most by Washington’s inexplicable commitment to more legal immigration are middle class Americans who are buried in debt, have seen steep declines in their home equity and have either lost their jobs or face losing them.
Legal immigration policy has remained unchanged for decades. The United States allows in large numbers of permanent immigrants (green card holders) and long-term temporary visa holders. Given the continued high rate of unemployment and widespread job shortages, this policy must be reconsidered. If it’s not, new immigration will continue at its already very high levels and Americans will remain out of work.