Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

CATO Institute's Dan Griswold suggests that the U.S. faces a crisis in filling lower skilled jobs because we aren't producing as many high school dropouts as in the past.

. . . the cohort of U.S. workers who have traditionally filled those jobs, namely high school dropouts, continues to shrink. In the past decade, the number of adults 25 and older without a high school diploma fell by 3.2 million, and their ranks will fall by another 2 million to 3 million in the next decade.

-- CATO's Dan Griswold

This is the kind of open-border libertarianism that gives the willies to thoughtful libertarians who believe in national communities. 

He was writing this in the Washington Times -- which is read heavily by the Republican staffers and Members of Congress.  He was warning that the Democratic proposals for "comprehensive immigration reform" are not likely to bring enough low-educated, low-skilled foreign workers into our country, even after giving an amnesty to approximately 8 million low-educated, low-skilled illegal alien workers already here.

Griswold said the amnesty needs to greatly increase temporary worker programs for low-educated, low-skilled foreign workers.

. . .recognize the reality that the U.S. economy benefits from low-skilled immigration. As the United States shakes off a deep recession, it is only a matter of time before job growth resumes, including lower-end jobs in retail, landscaping, food preparation and service, and home and commercial cleaning that attract low-skilled immigrants. . . .Yet our current immigration system offers no legal pathway for anywhere near a sufficient number of foreign-born workers to fill that growing, structural gap in our labor market.

-- CATO's Dan Griswold

OK, how about a little reality check?

First, American schools and disfunctional families are doing a much better job than Griswold gives them credit for producing high school drop-outs.

  • We have around 15 million native-born Americans between 18 and 65 who are high school dropouts.
  • Less than 7 million of them have jobs.

The official U-3 unemployment rate for the high school dropouts of our own is more than DOUBLE that of the rest of the nation's citizens, who are doing pretty awful themselves.

Wages and poverty rates for those who DO have jobs have been deteriorating for years.

Nothing in any government statistics suggests to me that our high school dropouts are in short supply and highly valued for their essential work.

Frankly, I am guessing that the Griswold idea is that people who do retail, landscaping, food preparation and service, and home and commercial cleaning deserve really low wages, and we might someday have to pay them a livable wage if we don't import enough foreign peasants to be our semi-slaves.

Feel free to share your opinion about the need for more foreign drop-outs with the folks at CATO.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

America's Jobless
low-skill visas

Updated: Thu, Nov 19th 2009 @ 7:30am EST

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Robert 8761 of MS's picture
Even if he is correct (which he is not) he gets an F for timing. Unfortunately, we have an over abundance of supposedly learned people who would recommend that the proper way to put out a fire is to pour more gasoline on it.
John 4110 of MI's picture
Mr Beck has done a nice job in summarizing the dismal trend in wages and unemployment for those in the U.S. with low educational attainment. The Cato commenter in his zeal to obtain cheap labor for construction, farmers, restaurants, meat packers, gardeners etc the Cato commenter missed another aspect of the issue. Given that there are substantial services are now (and in the near future) provided in a free or subsidized manner to all residents the true cost to society is not just the wages paid. Restricting the foreign supply of cheap labor would increase wages to less skilled workers - reduce the subsidy currently paid by society (i..e., the workers pay more taxes and get less subsidized services like health care). Even though he might like to abolish the welfare state the Cato commenter, he can not just assume its non existence.
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Stephen 6420 of ID's picture
Immigrants don't join unions. Unions try to raise wages for all workers. Business tries to keep wages at the bare minimum. Immigrants contribute to an oversupply of workers and lower wages for all workers. Business wants unlimited immigration to lower wages and break unions. I'm not a union member but I favor union efforts to raise wages and oppose business efforts to reduce wages to nothing. It is pretty ironic that people who claim to support workers also oppose unions and support politicians who support unrestricted carnivorous capitalism.
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Mary 6016 of VA's picture
Educated or not, people still need jobs! Some pay is better than none when your unemployment benefits run out and have NO income. So to say that those jobs should be filled with foreign workers is absurd. The majority of their money is sent back to their country, which does little for OUR economy and it makes no sense to pay our unemployed to sit home while foreigners, legal or not, works their job!! Any extension of unemployment benefits should mandate E-Verify for all jobs so we get our own to work and bring in workers when they are "needed", not while we have at least 14 Million unemployed and growing, and a massive number of high school and college graduates and dropouts! FREE postings of job listings and reasonably priced events are available on my website.
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