AEI Urges Continued Displacement of American Workers, Just In Time for Christmas

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has released a report that found that a massive increase in foreign workers in the United States will “immediately boost employment for US workers and accelerate the country’s economic recovery.” The report is nothing more than regurgitated apologia for multi-national corporations that abuse guest worker systems and discriminate against American workers.

The report’s author, Madeline Zavodny, makes the argument that there is a correlation between a large presence of immigrant workers and a strong job market, because immigrants create jobs. Realizing that previous studies that have made the same argument have been discredited by the fact that immigrants are attracted to areas where more favorable job conditions already exist (why would they go to North Dakota instead of New York City?) the author sidesteps this inherent flaw in her methodology by designing an “estimation technique” that – voila! – makes the problem disappear. By doing so, the author was then able to conclude that immigrants do not in any way compete with Americans for jobs but amazingly only complement native-born workers. This canard is nothing new, and is an assumption, not a “finding,” that can only be accepted if one chooses to ignore the reality of the U.S. labor market.

It is amazing, really, to believe that an economist would argue that there is absolutely no correlation between millions of foreign workers employed in the United States (8 million illegally) and millions of native-born unemployed or underemployed (over 10 million). One has to wonder just how such a portentous and utterly fantastical occurrence has come to be. Is it the work of the infamous “invisible hand,” or has AEI revealed the alchemic formula that turns depressed wages and deteriorated working conditions for Americans into gold for employers.

But AEI doesn’t stop with the claim that foreign-born workers and native-born workers don’t compete for jobs. The report claims that immigrants are responsible for creating jobs for native workers on a massive scale. The “evidence” that proves this? The author attributed the increase of native-born workers in the U.S. workforce from 2000 to 2007 to the increased presence of foreign workers in the U.S. during the same period. In other words, the author substituted a correlation for a cause. It is the same as arguing that the enormous economic growth the U.S. experienced in the 1980s was due to Tom Cruise’s success at the box-office during that decade.

The author’s claims are totally devoid of any evidentiary support, only a fervent belief in her arguments. Using the same logic, one can argue the seven million jobs lost from 2000-2010 were caused by the increased presence of foreign workers. Burying more recent data in the appendix, and hiding the fact that she cherry-picked favorable data, the author can ignore one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history that has resulted in massive jobs losses for American workers. And the fact that when employers began to hire again in 2009, the foreign-born gained jobs while the native-born continued to lose jobs. Or that between 2008 and 2010, 1.1 million new immigrants to the U.S. landed jobs, while overall employment declined by 6.3 million.

The report makes many false claims about American workers being unable to fill jobs in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and technology) fields, – claims that FAIR has refuted in Jobs Americans Can’t Do?: the Myth of a Skilled Worker Shortage – but the most harmful part of AEI’s publication is the recommendation that H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers be increased by at least 100,000. AEI also wants to increase visas for low-skilled workers to “stimulate” the U.S. economy. This is reprehensible when so many American workers are out of work and are competing with foreign workers for scarce jobs. AEI should ask unemployed Americans struggling to find work what they think of the “null effect” of immigration. But to AEI these Americans don’t seem to matter much. They are mere statistics upon which “estimation techniques” are performed.

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  1. avatar

    A great column with sound and concise use of statistics. It is depressing though how vested the republicans are in supporting business interests at the expense of the national interest though the party claims to be the most patriotic! When you work against the middle class you ruin the country, which is exactly what they are doing. This in combination with globalization has created a perfect storm of jobicide on all fronts. The democrats pander to pro-immigrant interests groups, and the media panders to all of the above. I despair that nothing will be done to change it! I work part-time in the public schools and I can tell you that immigration has had a horrible impact on education for all American students and is primarily responsible for the lowering of graduation rates and test scores, and increased budgets with no return on the extra money. We spend money on ESL and remediation when we should be spending money on math and science for the global economy. Oh, of course I forget, it’s the teacher’s fault, I apologize!

  2. avatar

    Current 60K visa are plenty but what needs to be done is reduce the IT, software visas doled out to outsourcing companies.

  3. avatar

    Mr. King
    Valid Question, to your point here are some more questions:
    1) Why public education funding is being reduced around country?
    2) Why teachers are being fired?
    3) Why Senior high school in Allen, Texas has 60 million dollar football stadium and not the same on math or science program?
    4) Why US universities have more than 80% graduate students from overseas?

    US is competing with east right now so either let go the US educated foreign graduate students go back and compete with US or let them create new business here (enterpreneur or as employee).

    The education must all cost be revamped, starting with following:
    1) Give loan subsidies or more scholarship to students in science and technology
    2) Make science and Math the focus at schools rather than sports or other non professional areas and I dare say the word “brain wash” kids to make them feel it is “cool” to get high skill,
    3) Unemployment checks must be function of getting additonal skills and not just blank check.

    US is great nation and needs to be technologically at the top with help from combination of global and domestic talent.

  4. avatar

    What are the loser’s a the AEI. smoking these day’s I thought it was illegal, but then they support Illegal aliens, and lie to the American public about how good we have it here, and if we would only look the other way, and let our selves be over run by all matter of illegal aliens we would benefit. Well if it isn’t pot then its crack.

  5. avatar

    Here’s a rebuttal

    Thursday, December 22, 2011
    Immigrant Founders — The Rest of the Story

    Ninety-two percent, or 46 out of 50, of the country’s top venture-funded companies had one or more American born founders. No, I didn’t make up the statistic, I found the data and reversed the spin that the pro-immigration faction is trying to promote.

    Stuart Anderson’s organization, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) may be doing more harm to his cause than good. Whenever someone throws out a percentage and does not provide a divisor, you can be assured that they are hiding something.

    read the rest

  6. avatar

    Is there data on unemployment by skill and sector. Yes overall unemployment is high and no there should be no open border policy. Yes immigrants should be filtered in. So when they say 140k immigrants are given every year only 60k of them are highly skilled rest are dependents. So rather than giving 50k to random diversity gc lottery winners eliminate those. Second majority of these skilled people have advanced degrees and many from accredited US universities. Doors cannot be completely shut. Defense companies struggle to fill all positions so there is definitely shortage of high skilled.
    The IT companies need to be scrutinized and throttled down but other sectors need these talents. So a common sense need based immigration is answer.

    • avatar

      So why are we not focusing our education tax dollars on improving the skills of Americans to fill these critical Defense jobs. With Budget cuts to government agencies across the board, it would behoove us to retrain some people. What are the Industries and government doing to get our people skilled instead in shutting the job market to them and let foreigners in to take our jobs?

  7. avatar

    Excellent, well-written column Eric. The shoddy, agenda-driven nature of AEI’s “research” here, will make me question everything they publish.

    This mass immigration groupthink is nauseating.