The New Xenophobia
Let’s look at the bit that Michelle Malkin highlighted.
Dale Baughman, who has lived in Northwest Arkansas all his life, has had a different experience. Three years ago, the BB-gun manufacturing plant where he worked for 29 years closed and he lost an $18.50-an- hour tool-making job. “It’s hard to find a job and the ones you can find don’t pay anything,” says the 52-year-old, who has a high-school diploma. He looked for machine-maintenance jobs at factories that would match his old pay but found only ones paying $12 to $13 an hour. He partly blames a rise in immigration, which he says is keeping wages low for less-skilled labor…..
Other workers agree that immigrants from Latin America are helping employers push wages down in jobs such as construction, where some native-born workers say they earn less now than they did 10 years ago. According to the Census Bureau, 6.9% of the area’s population was foreign-born in 2000, up from 1.5% in 1990. In addition to Latin Americans, Springdale has the largest concentration of people from the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands outside of their native land — an estimated 4,000 people, many of whom work in local factories and poultry plants.
James Bishop and Lisa Broadwell are longtime residents of Northwest Arkansas and both have years of experience in a trade: Mr. Bishop in machining and Ms. Broadwell in dry cleaning. Yet both are underemployed. “Hispanics are taking over the jobs in the poultry industry — jobs that used to go to people who live here, and as a result, those people that used to be in the poultry industry are taking over our jobs,” Ms. Broadwell said.–Full article available here.
Let’s stop and consider the situation of Dale Baughman. He says that his plight is due to the immigrants who have depressed wages. But is it? Is it that alone? Let’s also stop and consider that manufacturing jobs have been on a downward trend for the last several decades, and there has been a substantial drop off in manufacturing jobs starting around the begining of 2001.
So is it reasonable to assume that Mr. Baughman’s woes are due solely to those brown people scuttling across the border to take good jobs from hard working Americans, or is it that competition in the manufacturing labor market has risen as more and more people with manufacturing work experience find themselves back looking for a job? Or is the more likely explanation that in addition to some additional competition due to illegal immigrants Mr. Baughman is the victim of what has been going on for a very long time, technological advancement? With improvements in technology many manufacturing jobs are disappearing (pdf file).
Similalry for Mr. Broadwell. You can see this in the full article that notes the following,
He has applied for several factory machinist jobs paying up to $11 an hour, but competition was heavy and he didn’t get any.
A quick check of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data will show that there has been a significant decrease in the number of manufacturing jobs in Arkansas. How significant? Well, if we look at the above graph we can see that around the start of 1998 there was a resumption in the downward trend in manufacturing jobs after a leveling off for several years. Using 1998 as our starting point we are talking of a decrease of about 45,000 jobs.
On top of this, many of the good paying jobs that are not in manufacturing these days require an educational level that is not typical for somebody who was working at a manufacturing job. While it seems “obvious” to blame these kinds of things on the “furriners” the actual explanation is probably more complicated. Have immigrants had a downward impact on wages? Probably, but I have doubts it is the single biggest impact.