White House Wants to Shape Labor Force to Accommodate Employers’ Demands

Alan Krueger, the White House’s top economist, is arguing for increased immigration to meet the needs of employers in the future.

He argues that Congress should not be distracted by the currently unacceptably high level of unemployment and focus instead on how many low wage workers employers would like to be able to hire in the future. His argument supports the Senate Gang of 8’s proposal to add an annual stream of up to 200,000 additional foreign low-wage workers to the workforce. Those are workers who would be able to stay permanently rather than return home like guestworkers.

The problem with that approach is that it ignores the fact that investment in new business is shaped among other things by the availability and cost of labor. If there is a scarcity of low-wage workers, investors will take that into account in their plans. They will invest in more automation or more in value-added enterprise rather than business that depends on low-wage workers. It also ignores that increasing the supply of low-wage workers would depress upward pressure on wages and keep low-wage workers dependent on social assistance programs to help them rise above poverty.

The issue then becomes one of vision. Do we want to perpetuate and expand the ranks of the working poor or do we want to adopt policies designed to shape the economy towards expanded opportunities for gaining middle income jobs?

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    In hiring, fairness dictates looking first at Americans who are good workers, then legal immigrants. Americans can’t go home – they’re already home – here. In the meantime, we must decrease legal and illegal immigration, and help poor people abroad limit births, as overpopulation keeps them poor. To the latter, some unreasonable people scream “racism.” There’s nothing racist about urging people to do what we are doing ourselves. It took thousands of years to have 1 billion people on the earth, and only 1999-2011 to go from 6 billion to 7 billion! While we keep legalizing illegal immigrants, as in 1986, third-world rich will keep sending their poor here, for remittances (money sent home by emigrants) – at least $16 billion annually to Mexico, and for services like health care, housing and education paid for by Americans. In the late 1990’s, there were 22 billionaires in Latin American, 35 recently. The planet’s richest person is Mexican.

  2. avatar

    I f I point out to people that we don’t need more immigration, legal and illegal, with millions of Americans out of work, most blame “greedy corporations” Yet, a lot of individual middle-class Americans, many in debt, hire people for things like lawn mowing and housecleaning, if they will work for the lowest wages and not complain about unnecessarily disgusting or potentially dangerous conditions. These are too often immigrants, legal and illegal, who are trying to get a toehold in the U.S. and often do a better job, with a better attitude than many Americans. Americans are already home.

    On the one hand, many Americans do need to work harder and do a better job with a better attitude. On the other hand, there’s a limit, as competing with immigrants can be a race to the bottom, to see who can do the best job for the least money in the worst conditions. It’s taking us back to the days of the Robber Barons and their philosophy of “as much as the market will bear” and “Caveat emptor” (buyer beware ). Buyer beware- with undernourished workers in poor health working in filthy workplaces, the product you get may be harmful, but we’re not going to tell you. If an immigrant worker falls off a roof or loses a limb in a substandard plant, not only will he/she suffer, maybe permanently, but you the taxpayer will pay for his/her medical expenses and other expenses.

    • avatar
      nihad mohamed on

      Why don’t we qualify unemployed legal immigrants to different jobs the country greedy employers offer to illegal immigrants,,,they don’t pay taxes which will affect services as health,,education,,,etc. Why are we beating around the bushes !!!!??? Legal immigrants have the right to work,,health insurance,,pay bills to have descent life. Back to school programs should be help to qualify unemployed to deal with what they claim low wages jobs that illegal immigrants do,,farm workers ag ,,,steel workers,,please make it easy for legal immigrants and unemployed to work ,,we want to live decent lives,,,,please,,please,

  3. avatar

    Imbeciles like Krueger shouldn’t even try to express their BS, we get way more than our share from our useless souls that represent this government!

  4. avatar

    Speaking of the White House, here are a couple remarks that Joe Biden made back in January.

    For voting for Obama: “America owes Latinos and this is your moment.”

    And: “Latinos are at the center of the nation’s future.”

    Why America owes Latinos for voting for their own narrow interests is something that needs explaining. Whites will still be the largest group in this country for many years in the future. Why should Latinos be the “center” at the expense of whites whose ancestors came here 2 to 8 generations ago, or blacks, most of whom can trace their families back 200 or more years. When do their interests get recognized? Is it more important to keep allowing a flood of immigrants to lower wages of long time citizens whose ancestors built this country from the ground up?

    • avatar

      No Ethnic Group Owes Any Other Ethnic Group Anything in America

      America is a melting pot of ethnic groups, not entity for Fascist control by any ethnic group.

  5. avatar

    Technology and outsourcing have reduced the number of workers needed. Many jobs are being eliminated by machines. There is NO shortage of workers. Just decent paying jobs.

  6. avatar

    By the way, many educated and/or skilled workers will take jobs requiring little to no skills to tide them over in economic downturns such as we have now. Why cut even that safety net out from under Americans?

  7. avatar

    “focus instead on how many low wage workers employers would like to be able to hire in the future.”
    —————-I never thought I would hear such a comment from an appointee of a DEMOCRATIC president. The focus should be on the education and skills that employers need, NOT on the wages employers want to pay. Look at the educational and skills levels available and make decisions on THAT, and the wages will follow. Even low skilled or unskilled labor should see wages rise if there’s a shortage of it.

    I wonder how Mr. Krueger would feel if we admitted economists based on the salaries we’d like employers to be able to get them at.

  8. avatar
    John Thiesfeld on

    Our employers are not hurting with regards to the workforce. It is the exact opposite. All three of the companies I am affiliated with received upwards of 1500 applications per month. I think the government needs to 1. stop using employment as an excuse to let illegals in 2. stay out of corporate recruiting.

    On a more obvious note, if unemployment is so low, why would we need more people?!