Skip to comments.CA: Cost of illegal-immigrant labor exceeds benefits
Posted on 09/03/2004 8:39:45 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles recently announced that they would hire 3,000 new dockworkers for temporary jobs. Despite the common knowledge that the work is hard, there were more than a quarter of a million applicants. Indeed, so many people applied that those being hired were selected by a lottery system.
So what is the attraction? Simple: the pay and benefits. Initially, these jobs pay from $20.66 to $28 per hour and, better yet, those who are employed will have the opportunity to move on to permanent work and a possible six-figure income.
Suppose, for a moment, that these jobs didn't lead to annual pay of over $100,000, but instead only $60,000. It is still a good bet that people would be lining up around the block to apply. Even at $40,000 or less, there are many who would gladly take this work, considering that the average entry-level wage in Los Angeles County is $8.38.
There are many hard jobs, we are told, that Americans will not accept. This is raised as a justification for the hiring of illegal immigrants or in support of a "guest worker" program. For jobs washing dishes, or cars, or gardening or picking produce, often the pay is minimum wage or less. It is hard to determine what the typical pay is for some jobs because they are part of the underground economy where workers are paid in cash.
We are told by the same apologists for a system that encourages the employment of undocumented workers that the low wages help to keep prices down for consumers. But there is a hidden cost to taxpayers that they are hesitant to discuss.
No matter how one feels about minimum-wage laws or the underground economy, there is little disagreement that illegal immigrants, who make much less than Wal-Mart employees, are overwhelming public services in places like Los Angeles County. Property owners in the county are now paying an additional tax specifically to prop up the trauma care system, nearly half of whose clients are undocumented aliens.
Public services throughout the state are under pressure because low-paid illegal immigrants rely on these services -- including education -- in numbers proportionally greater than the general population. In short, it is the taxpayers who end up paying to subsidize the low-wage jobs of the undocumented.
Some suggested that without illegal immigrants, the nation would face a recession. But would we?
No one is suggesting that government mandate a six-figure income for dishwashers. But if we stopped importing an underclass willing to take starvation wages for hard or unpleasant work, market forces would force the pay rate up to a level American workers would accept. These wages would be declared for tax purposes and these wages would be spent here in the U.S. instead of being sent home, as is often the case with undocumented workers. The result would be more jobs and income for Americans while this "above- the-table" economic activity would produce additional revenue for government. Pressure on social services would decline.
Yes, without an illegal-immigrant labor force the price of a hamburger might go up a dime, but it is just as likely that the reduction in the tax burden would more than compensate for any increase in consumer prices.
Another early endorser of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Recall.
Speaking of early endorsers, I saw more of Pete Wilson on the limited TV broadcasts of the convention than I've seen of him for years! He's really lookin older these days!!!
lol, Good old 'Squeaky' Pete ... didn't he sign the largest tax increase ever back in the most recent glory days of the GOP ? only to see it followed by the gory days of davi$.
How the heck did Deuk do it anyway?
That five cents/gallon is still on the pump and it's goin right into the general fund which is now in debt to the tune of another Republican Governors promise that the credit card is torn up... WAIT! Didn't he just borrow five billion more to balance this latest budget???
Yawn... Voters and Taxpayers are so gullible!!!
Oh! And so are taxpayer organizations like Coupals and Pauli's CA Farm Bureau Federation!!! (snort!)
Partly because in most restaurants, machines actually wash the dishes. You don't need some cheap laborer with 8 kids going to school at $10,000 each per year who makes $4 an hour and can't afford health insurance or to pay his own doctor bills for his family.
Actually it would probably be nicer if it DIDN'T happen but the massive migration of people out of Mexico is actually leading to a lot of instability and making everything worse. If they stayed, they would be there to push for reforms but by leaving the reforms aren't going to happen and things are going into a downward spiral.
I wouldn't argue with that.
And the emergence of the welfare state, as janetgreen said above.
When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns
When low wages are outlawed, only outlaws will have low wages
Thus does the Minimum Wage contribute to flooding our society with immigrants in greater number than we can assimilate, who are discouraged from assimilation by their illegal status. That such a flood of illegal immigrants is forthcoming is a testament to the free, capitalist health of our nation.
To reduce illegal immigration, don't try to fight the natural, profit seeking response of a free capitalist economy with central immigration planning and enforcement. Instead just lower the Minimum Wage !!
It will have to be reduced substantially. The true cost of an illegal immigrant's labor is doubly reduced, first by not having to pay Minimum Wage, second by not have to pay benefits and withholding.
Southern California is full of illegal immigrants. They take jobs that teenage Americans would do...if they were not pre-empted by illegals. My son worked around the deficiency of being a white, male American citizen by becoming fluent in Spanish. The bilingual hiring preference that usually favors an illegal immigrant with limited English skills can be turned on its head. He's not flipping burgers anymore either. As a 21-year old licensed California real estate agent, he sells 15 to 20 houses a month to a predominantly Spanish speaking customer base.
I washed dishes for Farrell's Ice Cream in high school. Someone still has to rinse and rack the dishes before putting them through the wash/sanitize machine. Once complete, someone has to put the clean dishes where they are accessible to the cook/wait/fountain staff. That someone is the dishwasher.
I got tired of washing dishes pretty fast. It took a whole two weeks to pass all the written tests and practicals to switch to the cook position. Another couple of weeks to learn all the fountain stuff. It was on Ok job for a high school senior to cover costs for the prom, class ring and annual.
A friend of mine's dad was a pilot laid off by TWA in the late 80s. His father found work at a deli in a local supermarket making minimum wage.
When you have a family to feed, nothing is beneath you.
We are in the midst of a great game of Monopoly and the middle class always draws the card "Pass go do not collect 200 dollars", but instead pay out.
Thanks for the article. I have it archived.
Bummer about shutting down UC Davis. They came up with some great stuff. We had an almond tree behind our house in Stockton. We had to take long bamboo poles and knock the ripe nuts off the limbs and were told that's how they did it on the farms. The next year UC Davis came up with a bulldozer that was modified with two padded gripper arms. The farmers would lay out a large circular canvas sheet around the base of the tree, run the dozer in close enough the grab the tree trunk, and then proceeded to shake hell out of the tree. Ergo, a canvas full of ripe nuts in minutes.
The following year they were giving cherry trees, and probably others, an electric shock to fool them into blooming again and getting a double crop,
The mind reels at what those types of boys could do today if turned loose.
Undoubtedly, what's going on in the farm labor field is all about jobs for the desperate of Mexico, and not a lot about "efficient" farming.
But having been an employer in a number of different businesses I have an appreciation of the value of labor. At times my definition of a good employee was anyone above room temperature. We currently have an extremely tight labor market. Friends tell me they can't find any qualified dependable employees.
Every successful business owner will tell you that it is very important to rtain good employees and get quickly rid of bad employees.
A bad employee can cost you business, can result in lawsuits, and can run off good employees. Successful businesses reward good employees with raises, bonuses, special benefits ect...
I saw a national chain body shop go out of business because they couldn't find skilled body men. They were even paying double time to employees of other shops who would come in after they got off from their first job and work a night shift. Printers, jobbers, light manufacturers, and service companies are hurting because they can't find employees. They are offering good pay but are not getting qualified applicants.
Employers do not like to have employees who are subject to arrest and deportation at any time. Given the choice between an employee who is current with INS and one that is out of status (for whatever reason) the employer will pick the legal one. I lost an employee upon whom I had expended considerable resources training after 9/11. His student visa renewal had been denied several years previous. He was afraid of the after 0/11 crackdown on out of status immigrants, so he returned to Greece. I didn't know when I hired him that he was illegal. I didn't even know he was an immigrant.
There are lots of reforms needed in both our labor laws and immigration laws. But the answer is not to shut down American businesses. When a business folds, has to outsource or moves over seas, ALL employees, not just the illegal ones lose.