Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sid Salter: Country's Full But Farm & Labor Shortages Persist

During a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico, Calif., last week, President Donald Trump held fast to his steady contention that the U.S. immigration system was overburdened as he continued to push for a Southern border wall and tighter security to combat illegal border crossings.

 “There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said at the briefing. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. ... We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.”

What isn’t full at this point is a ready supply of agriculture and construction industry labor.

AgWeb.com reported in August that a 2018 CoBank study entitled “Help Wanted” cited the following findings:
First, as the U.S. economy continues to grow and unemployment dwindles, labor scarcity and wage inflation threaten the rural economy and put additional stress on profitability of the agriculture industry at a time of depressed commodity prices. Manual laborers are chasing higher wages offered in industries like transportation, construction, hospitality and mining, forcing agriculture employers to increase wages at a faster rate to compete.

Second, the scarcity of farm labor is also exacerbated by the shrinking number of migrant workers from Mexico. In addition to immigration controls like tightening borders and increased immigration enforcement, birthrates in Mexico are falling and populations are moving toward urban areas, leaving fewer people with agricultural backgrounds who would be interested in U.S. farm work.

The employment picture in the construction industry has been similarly impacted. GlobeSt.com writer Kelsi Borland reported in February that the U.S. construction industry lost 600,000 jobs since 2008, and 79 percent of construction companies need to hire more employees in 2019.

Borland wrote: “A recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79 percent of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by .5 percent annually for the next 10 years. That is hardly enough to make up for the 600,000 jobs lost since the last recession.”

Labor economist Giovanni Peri, head of the economics department at the University of California-Davis, said: “I would say that immigration policies in the United States have been almost completely separated from the economic needs of the U.S. economy.”

Peri continued: “I think it would look like policy which would allow people to come in if there are American companies that are willing to hire them. They would allow people who study in the United States whose number has increased dramatically, who go to college, to find, if they find a job in the United States, to stay. It would imply that a lot of the undocumented workers who are filling a crucial niche in the U.S. economy, such as construction, agriculture or personal services, need to find a reasonable way to keep their job and have a legal status.”

“And we should be thinking in the future that we want to continue, if not to enlarge the ability of highly skilled to come and drive and push the American economy, but also find some legal ways for low-skilled worker who do jobs that Americans are moving out of very fast,” Peri concluded.

Trump’s immigration rhetoric aside, the agriculture and construction industry labor shortages are all too real and the only likely source of ready workers to do these jobs are immigrant laborers. These jobs are jobs that native-born Americans have for whatever reason refused to accept.

U.S. agriculture and the business community are asking, even pleading for guest worker laws that make sense and that produce a national immigration policy that serves the existing American economy. Mississippi’s farm economy is not served by making labor shortages more severe.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sid does the Sandersons proud again.

Anonymous said...

americans are not going to do farm work or manual labor. gee siddy you a real genius. you just now figuring that out? i guess when you spend your entire life in scott county common knowledge arrives late in life.

Rod Knox said...

Nationally we have 2 parties and each of them talks out of both sides of their mouth. The GOP's phony tough talk about border security was well displayed by Mississippi's trashing of the legislation written to severely restrict employing illegal aliens. The hard line tough talk from Republicans in Jackson was all BS. The hospitality, construction and agriculture industries in the state got what they wanted while the Trump voters were told to shut up and go home and that's just what they did with their tails between their legs.

There won't be any enforcement of e verify in Mississippi and the GOP made that very plain.

Anonymous said...

TL, DR: Illegal immigration is good because brown people are willing to do jobs white people aren't.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked to say this but, the C-L has a helluva good article about patronage being passed from the universities to politicians in the form of gifts (valued into the thousands). And ol' Sid is quoted in the article as condoning this practice as allowing the universities to have "face time" with the politicians. So, I guess Sid is saying that the only way to get face time with an elected official is to give him/her some gifts. Great job Sid!

Anonymous said...

The labor shortage for unskilled labor is not something new. Just ask any small business owner or "farmer". Unless you can pay a fair wage, you aren't going to employ competent employees. The farmers themselves, along with suppliers, vendors. manufacturers, and others in the chain create their own problems to a large extent. I have come to have little empathy for the "farmer". They should be treated like any other business. Instead you have USDA, and other government entities, both state and federal, propping them up. Every year they gamble with the weather, yields, government intrusion, and other issues to survive. Let them compete like any other business.

Anonymous said...

Another great example of Sid's left leaning uninformed reteric. Its about the law dumba**. Our gov passes out H visas like pez, when an industry shows a need and follows the law. Like timber planting and nursing. When industry embraces illegal aliens, like construction and farming, there is no demand to DOL. If illegal aliens are just given blanket legal status do you think they will keep roofing houses Sid? No, they will go work at Nissan or a supplier in air conditioning. Then there is another shortage in construction which causes more illegal immigration. Amnesty is a neverending circle of failure. Clean up employers and stop the flow of illegal, then start a robust H visa program. How does this guy have a job?

Anonymous said...

Immigration policy cannot be based on immediate or cyclical labor needs but long term consequences of population expansion. We must consider the future trends towards high technology, artificial intelligence and mechanization before opening the floodgates to low or semi skilled workers who will ultimately burden the already overburdened welfare systems in this country. This is not mean or cruel, it's just common sense. The main beneficiaries of a sensible immigration policy are the poor and middle class who already live here. Trump is an ass, but we need him to stand firm until and unless we make changes to a broken system.

Anonymous said...

We already have a policy that allows people from other countries to come to this country, work here and go to school here. The ONLY thing being asked of them is that they take the LEGAL path. Why is this so hard for Democrats to understand?????

Anonymous said...

So in other words if big farmers and construction firms can't hire illegal aliens to work for less than minimum wage with no benefits they might actually have to pay American citizens a fair wage. Maybe some of the folks sitting around waiting on handouts might even be inspired to work. That would just be terrible.

Anonymous said...

If the guest workers wouldn't stay around and become a drain on the broader economy, there might be a way to move forward. As it stands, liberal democrats want to enlarge their voting block by importing lots of people who have no intention of becoming Americans. As Mexico's politicians have stated, they all will continue to be Mexicans that just live in the USA.

Anonymous said...

So it is Trumps fault that Americans don’t want to do manual labor jobs for minimum wage? Or is the academics that convince everyone that they need to go to college and no one is encouraged to seek vocational work?

Once again Sad Salter is great at picking and choosing his facts and statistics to further his misguided point that only paints half the picture...

Anonymous said...

I've got an idea ! There are thousands of unemployed guys hanging out around convenience stores and juke joints in this country right now on the government "payroll" . Why couldn't that potential labor pool being tapped in to ?

Anonymous said...

A dozen comments and all misrepresenting the point of the column. I don't see anywhere in it that Sid has promoted the idea of allowing illegal immigration, or the fact that wages paid would be lower than minimum wage. Only the idiots that want to scream nothing but 'build the wall' can read this column in this manner.

A guest worker program isn't an increase in illegal immigrants. It does not bring in workers that get paid less than minimum wage - either in factorirs, fields, or construction sites. In fact, many of those guest workers on construction projects have wage rates well above the minimum.

Are there Americans that are not working that could fill these jobs? Sure, but they aren't going to work anywhere. They will continue to hang around the 7-11 drinking beer, as noted above. They aren't getting on a roof in the summertime and nailing down shingles, or framing up wall panels, or picking veggie crops. The guest worker program is a legitimate needed part of a national immigration policy where we can know who is in the country, and why.

But with all the intentional misstatements of the facts, or of the argument, similar to the comments here on JJ, it seems that many would rather stir the pot than address the real issues with solutions

Anonymous said...

In this capitalist economy there will always be a shortage of "cheap labor". The dumb ass middle class gets so caught up in the democrat vs republican bullshit perpetrated by the super rich that they do not understand that it is they who ultimately pay for the influx of cyclical menial laborers coming into this country to make the bosses rich. The repubs and democrats really don't care about the long term costs, since they don't pay anyway. They do begin to care a little about the potential votes though, so maybe that will help. This is a money issue and neither party fights money.

Anonymous said...

10:20- of course he's talking about illegal immigrants. Never once in the article did he mention Trump's rhetoric on restricting legal immigration.

The tone of this column is pro illegal immigration. Illegal aliens are "filling a crucial niche in the US economy", after all.

If you didn't get that, maybe you're the one that needs to reread it.

Rod Knox said...

Neither party wants a solution to the illegal alien problem 10:20. They each want to continue to put on a high drama show of phony support for one of their loud constituencies. Behind the dog and pony show the Democrats' goal is to keep the current legal Latin American residents and citizens locked solid behind Democratic candidates. Likewise the GOP's dog and pony show is to keep the hard core anti-alien crowd barking and howling and ready to vote Republicans.

Both parties are selling out working families of one shade or another.

Anonymous said...

Rod @ 10:57 At least somebody gets it! There's hope for this blog after all.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Of all the ill-informed to completely ignorant comments, of all the ones with misspelling, and poor attempts to be snide, this thread takes the cake.

If you aren't doing as well or as respected as much as you think you should be,read what you wrote.

Anonymous said...

@8:28: Just white folks, huh? Take a ride around Port Gibson, Fayette, or pick a place in the Delta, and report back on the demographics of the folks sitting and standing around during working hours.

Anonymous said...

Help wanted... $15.00 per hour.
Roofing Jobs. Must be able to work long hours during summer temperatures on steep roofs, be able to carry 80 pound shingles up ladders.
Chicken Processing Plant. Long hours while standing on a productive line using sharp instruments, deal with unpleasant odors in non air conditioned areas.
Sanction Workers Be able to lift heavy containers into truck in all weather conditions. Hours 7:00am till 5:00pm
1-800-are- you-sure

Anonymous said...

Who the hell would leave Guatemala to work in Mississippi?

Rod Knox said...

Many employers of basic laborers prefer illegal aliens because they are eager to work and will put up with a great deal of crap from an autocratic supervisor without complaint. They have been starved into submission before crossing the border and hope to stay. Of course many people are certain that the solution to the labor problem is to starve American workers into submission so they will appreciate minimum wage jobs in the heat and cold. They envied Apartheid townships and many efforts to reverse engineer the township system have been proposed. Belle Isle is the grandest that I have ever heard of

https://www.michiganradio.org/post/commonwealth-belle-isle-worlds-next-city-state

Anonymous said...

Knox, your expertise is boundless. Do your ego a favor. Time to start your own blog.

Anonymous said...

Go to the construction site of the Ole Miss Med School each noonday.

100's of Mexicans driving trucks with Texas and Alabama tags.

Rod Knox said...

It's such an honor that you take interest in my posts and give me guidance in furthering my efforts 10:13. I'll look into your blog suggestion. Have a good day now.

Anonymous said...

Labor shortage is at worse, a myth, at best, a symptom of the problem. The problem is lack of work ethic, lack of desire to get up and perform a job and the increasing dependence on social programs for daily sustenance. And we are going to see that increase with the growing positive-regard for socialism among children under 35.

Rod Knox said...

And does your post indicate supporting the "starve them into submission" 9:00? That never has seemed to work out well.

Anonymous said...

9:00 is a special kind of stupid. I bet 9:00 believes that the smoke and mirrors after 08/09 made the economy recover.

9:00 has no idea exactly why it is that young socialist girl and her supporters literally want a wealth confiscation tax. Here ya go 9:00. Imma help ya old butt out. Pay attention, because I can almost guarantee that this affected you negatively or will in the future unless you're a billionaire.

Inflation-targeted at "2 percent" per year, has debased what a normal salary or wage 10 years ago could afford. Add a crap ton of college debt on top of that, with crappy job aspects, and the biggest darn 'bubble' the American economy has ever seen and you have a situation to where you can never get ahead IF you can even stay afloat.

The people that do have savings in the bank can barely see a return, although things are looking somewhat better for money market savings accounts & higher yield C.D's. So, the savers have to deal with that and barely keep up with 'target inflation' in as much as growing their money OR they can put in the equities market--which was one of the features of artificially depressing the 'interest rate/fed funds rate'.

Yep, that's right. They rigged the game so that if you even so much as wanted to keep up with inflation, you had to put your money in something that was not insured by the FDIC, thus making the stock market look healthier than it actually is as of now. But guess what? Because of economic realities--the higher cost of everything--- most Americans don't have much liquidity (cash) in the bank. It's not because of financial ignorance nor laziness as far as the job market is concerned.

Until people such as yourself realize that our monetary policy, which is not the same as fiscal policy- might as well be the biggest threat to our national security, whether democrat or republican, the same ole song and dance will continue. And believe you me, that doesn't benefit us.

If you think that wall is going to stop these corporations from wanting cheap labor( they do come from other places besides Mexico, legally), then you're also very very stupid. Go henceforth into the world of corporate recruiting for a while, and come back and tell us all that the wall is going to put an end to the cancer that is known as insourcing- and its opposite- outsourcing, with a straight face.

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