Friday, August 30, 2013

Falling Teen Employment

McClatchy reports on a study showing a collapse in teen employment over the past decade:
In 1999, slightly more than 52 percent of teens 16 to 19 worked a summer job. By this year, that number had plunged to about 32.25 percent over June and July. It means that slightly more than three in 10 teens actually worked a summer job, out of a universe of roughly 16.8 million U.S. teens.
“We have never had anything this low in our lives. This is a Great Depression for teens, and no time in history have we encountered anything like that,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. “That’s why it’s such an important story.”
Not sure this exactly strengthens the case for an expansion of guest-worker programs, an aim of the White House and some in Congress.

Read more here:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Immigration and Wages

Oxford University's Paul Collier suggests that high levels of immigration can end up depressing the wages of recent immigrants:
Why are migrants not only the winners but also the big losers from migration?
The answer is that those who have already migrated lose, at least in economic terms, through the subsequent migration of others. Migrants lose because they compete with one another. 
Also speaking about wages and immigration, ABC/Fusion adds: "for black workers in particular, there has been evidence that immigration can depress wages among certain sectors of the workforce."

Reihan Salam has a rather extensive set of comments about the economic effects of mass "low-skilled" immigration.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MLK and the Constitution

For the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, I offer some thoughts about Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and the possibilities of Constitutional renewal.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Democratic Strategy

The Wall Street Journal notes some Democrats who are uncertain about going along with the president's and Senate's immigration agenda:
Like many of their GOP counterparts, hesitant House Democrats worry about how to handle the 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.
"I'm opposed to granting amnesty," said Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, whose grandparents legally emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon. Creating a separate way this group can gain citizenship "would siphon scarce resources away from our already-overwhelmed immigration system and would be unfair to those other immigrants, past and present, who have dutifully waited for their turn to legally enter our country," he said.
Some House Democrats fret that any new immigration laws could repeat what they consider the mistakes of a 1986 law that legalized many illegal immigrants and included measures to stop illegal crossings.
"I want to be certain that it's not 1986 all over again," said Rep. Daniel Lipinski, a Democrat from Illinois, who said he's concerned some lawmakers might be willing in future negotiations to roll back the provisions to beef up border security, which were added to the Senate bill in a bid to win GOP support. "I have concerns about if the federal government will be serious about enforcing immigration law in the future," he said.
Of course, many Democrats and some Republicans who ended up voting in the Senate in favor of the Gang of Eight bill also said they were against "amnesty."  From Obamacare to the stimulus to (in the Senate) immigration politics, the White House has been pretty successful at bending Congressional Democrats to its will.  Skeptics about the "comprehensive" immigration agenda should not take too much comfort from these statements.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kids Act and other DREAMs

Peter Skerry looks at Democratic opposition to the Kids Act and some of the other implications of illegal immigration for political dynamics.

Remember the Workers

At NRO, I look at the current employment picture and suggest some of the need for the GOP to develop policy alternatives:
This breakdown in opportunity also increases government spending and public intervention in the marketplace, sometimes with disastrous results. It is very likely, for instance, that the slowdown in economic growth in the 2000s encouraged many politicians of both parties to look the other way during the inflation of the housing bubble of the 2000s: Accelerating housing values helped make up for wage stagnation and the other trials of the middle and working classes. Meanwhile, cheap labor might be cheap for the employer, but it is rather expensive for today’s American taxpayer. Every worker struggling at the economic margins adds to the growing appetite for government subsidies, from Medicaid to SNAP to housing programs. For those serious about reducing the deficit, improving the economic circumstances of those at the economic margins (and those in the middle) would be a decisive step forward.
Republicans have an opportunity to confront these issues in the months ahead by laying out a set of policy alternatives. But they need to keep their eyes on the big picture. Many on the right note that an increased minimum wage is far from an economic panacea, but explaining the limits of minimum-wage increases is not enough. Nor is another round of financial brinksmanship over the budget likely to address these concerns fully. Collaborating with the Senate on its immigration bill, which would hurt workers already here, seems unlikely to improve the bargaining power of labor. As neoliberal writer Mickey Kaus has argued, for all the president’s protestations about income inequality, the signature domestic initiative of his second term (his immigration agenda) could very well worsen inequality. There is little reason for Republicans — or, frankly, Democrats — to sign on to that outcome.
Reigniting economic vitality and growth would be a key step to turning around the employment picture. Stronger economic growth could generate an upward demand for workers. A stronger demand increases workers’ opportunities for better employment conditions and higher wages in two ways: It helps workers increase their wages at their current job, and it creates opportunities for workers to move on to higher-paying jobs. When there is a glut of the unemployed, it is easy to fill a staff with part-timers. A tighter labor market due to a strongly growing economy would encourage employers to be more efficient and to invest in new technologies, while also making the labor of the employee a more valuable commodity.
Read the rest here.