Chris Chmielenski's picture

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  by  Chris Chmielenski

The American middle class shrunk in 90% of 229 metros across the nation between 2000 and 2014, according to a report released this week by the Pew Research Center. In half of the metros, more Americans moved from the middle-income tier to the lower-income tier than from the middle-income tier to the upper-income tier.

Eleven of the top 32 metros that experienced a net decline across the income tiers, fall in the Piedmont region between Raleigh, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga. This region has experienced rapid population growth fueled by high immigration levels over the same period of time.

It's also the focus of our most recent Sprawl Study that can be viewed here.

In fact, not one metro that falls within the Piedmont saw a net increase across the three income tiers. That's bad news for the region, but another example of how high immigration levels can have a devastating effect on American workers and their wages.

Of the 25 metros that suffered the worst, the population grew 20% faster than the U.S. population over the 15-year span. Many of those areas also experienced the highest increases in the nation in its foreign-born population over the same period.

Some in Congress Push More Suffering

Some in Congress are pushing for even more foreign workers. Most of those pushing for increases represent the areas that are suffering the worst.

Nine Members of Congress sent a letter last week to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee pushing for a provision to the FY17 DHS spending bill that could potentially quadruple the number of H-2B visas issued. The H-2B visa program allows foreign workers to fill temporary or seasonal jobs when employers claim that they can't find an American worker to fill the job. The annual cap is 66,000, but Congress added a provision to last year's omnibus spending bill that exempts any foreign worker who has had an H-2B visa over the last three years from the annual cap. That provision expires on Sept. 30 unless it's renewed.

Of the nine letter signers, only three Members represent districts that saw a net increase in incomes across the three major tiers between 2000 and 2014. The other six, including Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), whose district lies within the Piedmont, have seen a net decrease for its middle-income residents. You can see a full list of the letter signers pushing for more foreign workers here.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

Updated: Mon, May 30th 2016 @ 10:20am EDT

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