What's That About Jobs Americans Won't Do?

By Mark Krikorian on December 21, 2008

Apologists for mass immigration have been telling us for years that immigrants worked in "segmented labor markets" and "niche occupations" — really just fancy terms for "jobs Americans won't do." Well, so much for that theory; as the Wall Street Journal points out, "U.S. Workers Crowding Out Immigrant Laborers":

For the first time in a decade, unskilled immigrants are competing with Americans for work. And evidence is emerging that tens of thousands of Hispanic immigrants are withdrawing from the labor market as U.S. workers crowd them out of potential jobs. At least some of the foreigners are returning home. . . .

Competition has become fierce even in agriculture, where farmers had struggled in recent years to hire enough immigrants to harvest crops, sometimes letting fruit wither on the vine.

Growers across the country are reporting that farmhands are plentiful; in fact, they are turning down potential field workers. "For the first time since 9/11, we have applicants in excess of our requirements," says Bob Gray, chief executive of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., a grower, packer and shipper based in Salinas, Calif.

In particular, Mr. Gray has observed an influx of U.S.-born Latinos and other workers who previously shunned field work. "These are domestic workers who appear to be displacing immigrants," says Mr. Gray.

A similar situation has emerged in U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles, where unemployed, nonimmigrant laborers are seeking informal work that typically has been performed by low-skilled immigrants that once commanded a 50% premium over the hourly minimum wage.

Notice Americans are even taking farm jobs, when they look better than the alternative. What that will mean when the economy starts growing again, assuming we don't just go back to ignoring the immigration laws, is that they can be kept in those jobs if the wages are good enough. That would translate into disproportionate improvements for the poor through the workings of the market, rather than largesse from taxpayers. Seems like a good deal to me.