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Chicago Tribune: "Businesses need workers;" Paper says there "aren't enough visas to fill the available jobs"


Though it may surprise 25 million jobless Americans, the Chicago Tribune's editorial board believes there aren't enough available workers to meet the economy's demand. In its weekend editorial, the Tribune chided Arizona for not recognizing or addressing the root cause of illegal immigration, which - according to the Tribune - is simple: "Businesses need workers. When the system fails to provide enough visas to fill the available jobs, employers and workers simply find ways around it. Those needs should drive the immigration system."

In Illinois, the Tribune's home state, about 588,500 people looking for a job can't find one. Maybe the Tribune assumes none of them want any of the jobs currently held by illegal workers. The paper is unclear on that point but clear that immigration policies should be driven by the demands of the labor market. That would certainly be a welcome change for disadvantaged workers.

Currently, U.S. immigration policy is not a function of U.S. labor market conditions. If it were, we would probably not be granting an average of 75,000 new permanent work permits to immigrant workers every month. Tighter immigration policies produce tighter labor markets, which create low unemployment, rising wages and a demand for more workers. That's how supply and demand functions in the labor market. Symptoms of our current loose labor market include high unemployment rates and stagnant or declining wages. Illegal immigration exacerbates a loose labor market by adding illegal workers to a labor pool that already includes more available workers than available jobs.

The Tribune on the other hand sees illegal immigration as a symptom of a tight labor market, and concludes that Illinois' 588,500 unemployed workers either don't exist or don't count.

Many newspapers took the April jobs report as proof that the economy is finally back on track. In an earlier blog, I cautioned that most mainstream news coverage missed the story of how an autopilot immigration policy results in a jobless recovery for millions of American workers. The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, however, has distinguished itself for not only missing the immigration angle of the jobs story -- they have missed the jobs angle of the immigration story.

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