The latest government statistics suggest that while the unemployment rate declined in July to 7.4 percent, the number of discouraged workers and those not in the labor force remains high. The report comes amid congressional discussions that could lead to amnesty for at least some illegal aliens in the country and legal immigration changes, both of which would dramatically increase the number of job seekers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today show that there were 988,000 discouraged workers in July, 136,000 more than one year ago. According to BLS, discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
The BLS says that 2.4 million people were “marginally attached to the labor force” in July. Those are Americans who can’t find a job but are available to work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.
Also, the data show that 240,000 dropped out of the labor force was in July – 78,000 more than the 162,000 jobs added in the month. These are people who are unemployed and no longer looking for work because they have retired or given up looking. The number of people not in the labor force -- 89,957,000 – remained near an all-time high in July.
The fate of the Senate-passed comprehensive amnesty bill, which would add 33 million permanent job seekers over the next decade, remains in abeyance since the House Republican leadership wants to vote on its own package of immigration bills:
- The SAFE Act, which would help shore up interior enforcement (already passed by the Judiciary Committee);
- Mandatory E-Verify legislation (passed Judiciary Com.);
- An agricultural guest worker bill, which would replace H-2A visas (passed Judiciary Com.);
- The SKILLS Visa Act, which would increase visas for higher-skilled guest workers and their families (passed Judiciary Com.); and
- A border security bill (passed Homeland Security Com.).
House Republican leaders also are pushing amnesty legislation for illegal aliens under a certain age, perhaps like the “DREAM Act” that passed as part of S. 744. Proponents of the Senate-passed bill are hoping for passage of some kind of amnesty so that the legislation can go to conference committee, where they can revive the broader amnesty and legal immigration increases contained in their bill.
Opponents of S. 744 question the efficacy of increasing work permits for foreign nationals during a time of high unemployment. As noted in a recent Center for Immigration Studies report, all of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal. So any amnesty or legal immigration increases can only compound the job search problems unemployed and underemployed American face.
Complicating matters, the few sector of the economy that posted strong job gains in July also heavily employ new immigrants and illegal aliens. For example, the leisure, hospitality, and food services industries posted gains of 38,000 in July and 381,000 over the year. And the retail trade industry added 47,000 jobs in July and has added 352,000 over the past 12 months.
“The last 13 years, or even the last five years, make clear that large-scale immigration can go hand-in-hand with weak job growth and declining rates of work among the native-born, the CIS report said. “Given the employment situation in the country, the dramatic increases in legal immigration contemplated by the Gang of Eight immigration bill seem out of touch with the realities of the U.S. labor market.”
For more on the jobs report, read CNS News.
Updated: Fri, Aug 9th 2013 @ 8:07am EDT