The US government regulates the wages, salaries and benefits of US citizens in virtually all sectors of society in any number of ways, and the government has regulated wages, salaries and benefits downward for the last thirty-five years.
Sign a treaty, call it a trade agreement, and watch millions of jobs get exported overseas. The job losers contend for the remaining jobs, putting downward pressure on wages. The rich benefit because exporting jobs expands profits, dividends and share prices. The government also uses immigration to regulate US wages, salaries and benefits.
As you read this, US businesses are pushing congress and the white house to expand the H-2B program so that they can import more semi-skilled and low skilled foreign labor to replace US citizens. This is another case of the US government enacting a program to bring downward pressure on wages, and increasing unemployment among US citizens.
According to the Economic Policy Institute;
“…employment and wage data show no labor shortages in industries that employ H-2B workers. Many business groups have advocated for expanding the H-2B visa program to fill so-called labor shortages with low-skilled temporary guest workers. The report suggests that businesses support expanding the H-2B program because they can pay H-2B workers less than comparable U.S. workers. “It’s clear that there are not national-level labor shortages in H-2B jobs that would justify expanding the H-2B program or watering down rules requiring that employers first recruit U.S. workers before hiring an H-2B worker,” said Daniel Costa, the report’s author.
Costa reports, “Wages were stagnant or declining for workers in all of the top 15 H-2B occupations in 2014.” Many of these industries have been experiencing declining wages for a decade or more.
Hopefully, given the current US political climate, an expansion of the H-2B visa will not come about. That would be devastating to the 99 percent, but the rich would reap the benefits of lower wages.
The H1-B guest worker visa has been used to keep the wages of US high tech workers down for nearly thirty years. Wages in the high tech industry have been in the doghouse since the inception of the program, and three out of four US high tech workers are unemployed in their fields.
If the government was truly serious about raising US wages, and that time is nearing, both the H-1B and the H-2B programs would be curtailed or eliminated. The Trans Pacific Partnership would not become a fact of law. In addition, immigration would be curtailed until long-term wage growth became a reality, and the income and wealth gaps closed significantly.
During the last three decades and a half, immigration into the US has been explosive. That’s because the US government has been regulating wages downward. The folks at the Pew Research Institute call this hyper-immigration. According to some estimates, 90-95 percent of all US population growth since 1981 is due directly or indirectly to immigration.
Now I’m not suggesting immigration is a bad thing most of the time, especially if worker compensation is going up. But it does become a problem for the 99 percent, and a treasure chest for the 1 percent, if compensation is going down. When this occurs, such a process redistributes income to the super rich from the 99 percent. Let’s face it. Average real US wages have declined in real terms during this period of hyper-immigration while the US stock markets have exploded. Much, and perhaps most, of this is due to shipping jobs overseas, but a fair amount is due to hyper-immigration. Just look at wages in the US high tech sector.
To read the EPI report click here.