No Evidence of Labor Shortage in H-2B Occupations …

by Marguerite Telford –

.. Visa increase will hurt working Americans who are paid the least –

WASHINGTON, DC (January 7, 2016) —Buried in Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s massive omnibus spending bill passed last month was an expansion in the H-2B visa program for less-skilled seasonal workers outside of agriculture. A Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the wages of the top H-2B occupations reveals no signs of a labor shortage, the pretext provided for the insertion of this provision which would potentially quadruple the number of workers allowed in the U.S. under this program.

Data shows that real wages (adjusted for inflation) increased little or actually declined from 2007 to 2014 for many of the H-2B occupations, all very low-paying jobs to begin with. The occupation that did the best was maids and housekeepers; it saw roughly a 4 percent increase from 2007 to 2014, or 0.6 percent annual wage growth on average. Janitors, ticket takers, and cooks were among those who actually saw their real wages decline. If there is a labor shortage, then wages should be rising rapidly for these occupations as employers struggle to recruit new workers or retain the workers they already have.

View the analysis and tables at:

Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and author of the analysis, concluded: “The whole idea that wage increases justify increased immigration to reduce or hold down future wage growth is highly questionable. After all, these occupations are often filled by the least-educated and poorest Americans – immigrant and native. Allowing wages to increase can be seen as a positive development because it reduces social inequality and encourages work. But even assuming that rising wages are a negative development that must be addressed by increased immigration, there is still no evidence in the wage data that workers are in short supply.”

Contact: Marguerite Telford

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