Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Racial Lanscape of America

Recently I read an article in the Washington Post concerning the amount of immigrants working for lawn care companies in America. This piece focuses on immigrants who have come to America to work low-skill jobs. The debate on this has gone on for a while and it seems that most people are of the thought that immigrants who take low-skill work in the U.S. are hurting the economy and creating less of a job market for citizens of the country. I tend to side with the minority of people on this issue.

America has changed substantially over a relatively short period of time. It has come from a well oiled industrial machine into a leading market economy. 50 years ago, working on telephone poles for 10 hours a day was more than enough to support a family and live comfortably. Nowadays, while not losing any respectability, jobs like these have lost a lot of their value. A person trying to support a family and live comfortably on construction salary is going to have a hard time just making ends meat. America as a whole has traded in its hammer and nails for a suit and tie. And most Americans aren’t looking to mow lawns, clean houses, or do road work. They want to be marketing reps, stock brokers, doctors, and lawyers. So, most would agree that immigrants aren’t taking our most highly coveted jobs. That’s not to say every American will work for a big fancy company when they are ready to enter the job market. Policemen, firefighters, truck drivers, and handymen are some of the jobs that will always be needed and highly valued.

But what about young people who are looking for a summer job or something to help get them through college? The fact is that the owners of maid services and small lawn care companies don’t want these part time workers who might leave at the drop of a hat. They want some stability in their business and they get it from immigrants. Most of the people who immigrate into America from the Hispanic countries to the south will work for 5 or more years trying to earn enough capital to either send money home to their families or begin a new life in the States. Since most of these people are uneducated; they take the low-skill jobs that only require two hands and a lot of sweat. Lawn care companies and the like love this because they get hard working individuals who will work for less than most (the owner in the article pays 10 dollars an hour). For Citizens, there is still a plethora of good part time jobs to be had. Restaurants, banks, customer service entities, and others are always looking for hard working individuals who will work part time.

I do understand that with illegal immigration many employers have bad hiring practices. But I really feel that immigrants are taking jobs that most Americans don’t want and doing a great job at them. With the way our society has changed over time, it was only going to be a while before we outsourced physical labor to those who would do it longer, harder, and for less.

1 comment:

Larry Eubanks said...

What would the normative frameworks of economic efficiency and economic liberty say about immigration, legal and illegal?