The Wall Street Journal says “declining immigration” is hampering Texas’ job market. But this unending corporate chorus for ever more foreign workers is badly out of sync with reality as the state’s economy thrives, and available workers abound.
WSJ’s story, appearing behind the newspaper’s paywall, highlighted the (supposed) plight of a San Antonio homebuilder. The builder says he used to be able to call up subcontractors on a moment’s notice. “They would say, ‘I have three cousins in Mexico to come work with us,’” he related.
Now, according to the WSJ account, “No one is coming.” Really? That certainly must be news to the ultra-busy U.S. Border Patrol in South Texas.
Both legal and illegal immigration to Texas are increasing, not declining. From 1990 to 2019, the state’s foreign-born population (legal) rose a whopping 225 percent to 4.95 million, second largest behind California. Ongoing surges of illegal migration add to that total daily. Under Texas’ lax E-Verify law, illegal aliens continue to work across the state.
From lower-skill service industries to the high-tech sector, businesses are moving to Texas with every expectation that their workforce needs will be met. Indeed, Gov. Greg Abbott reported this week that growth in the state’s Gross Domestic Product led the U.S. during the fourth quarter, expanding at a robust annual rate of 10.1 percent.
But that doesn’t satisfy the Debbie Downers at WSJ. Again trotting out their fictitious immigration narrative, they claim wages are increasing too much. The aforementioned Texas homebuilder complained that paint jobs, which ran $6 a square foot before the pandemic, now cost him $7.50.
On the supply side, there is slack in the Texas labor force. Though the state’s unemployment rate has steadily declined in recent months, the February rate of 4.7 percent is a percentage point higher than the U.S. average. The 694,500 Texans on the jobless rolls do not include hundreds of thousands of working-age residents who have stopped looking for jobs, but could be enticed back into the labor pool by better wages.
“We are a nation with an economy, not an economy with a nation,” says Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas. He asserts that the needs of the country and the individual must prevail over disingenuous demands for “open borders.”
Cotton challenges businesses to “invest more in American workers, pay them more and treat them better.” That holds for Texans, too. And for the sake of its credibility, the Bible of Business ought to take note.