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OUR NEW AD — Real Wages Still Below 1970s Wages

author Published by Roy Beck

Don’t let immigration slow down the momentum for U.S. wage increases.
That’s the key message and purpose of our latest cable TV ad campaign.
You can view the ad here: Or click on the image below.

A lot of people are celebrating that the recent strong economy of jobs growth has tightened the labor market enough so that wages have been rising at every level of the employment ladder. Pres. Trump celebrated this in his 2019 State of the Union address. We include a clip of that at the beginning of the ad as our way to celebrate, too.
But we’re concerned that a lot of people are not aware that wages still have a long way to climb before most occupations are paying inflation-adjusted wages as high as they did 45 years ago in the 1970s. The business lobbyists clamoring for more foreign workers certainly don’t act like they are aware of that. And there are plenty of U.S. Senators of the same mindset as they insist on high levels of immigration to deal with with a claimed labor shortage. But if there were truly a shortage of potential workers in the country, wages would be much higher.
So, we’re running this ad campaign to bar any Washington official from being able to claim to be unaware of the still-depressed wage reality for so many U.S. occupations.
Here is what the narrator in the ad says after the clip of the President extolling rapid wage growth:
The economy is moving in the right direction.
But adjusted for inflation, wages in many occupations are still below 1970s wages.
And allowing immigration to continue at one million a year — flooding labor markets — could block further wage growth.
Isn’t it time to reduce immigration numbers and allow wages to rise more?
Let’s keep giving Americans a raise.
On the screen at the end is this:
Since 1990, the federal government has been giving out lifetime work permits to around one million new legal immigrants every year. This has been one of the factors in why wages in so many occupations have not been able to climb out of the pit they dropped into during the 1980s and early 1990s. Wages generally do not rise until the labor market is tight. And it is difficult for the labor market to tighten when the government is adding about as many foreign workers every month as the economy is adding jobs.
Pew Research stated last year this astounding fact about average wages for Americans:
. . . in real terms, average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today.”
Perhaps the best thing Congress could do to keep the wage increases rolling back toward the 1973 level would be to pass the RAISE Act (S. 1103 and H.R. 2278). It would immediately reduce the flow of immigrants toward the level in the 1980s (about half the level of today). This would force employers to be more creative and more systematic in recruiting new workers from the tens of millions of working-age Americans who do not currently have a job.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

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