Wages for Americans have jumped since ICE arrested almost 700 illegals at several labor-intensive chicken plants in Mississippi — yet the New York Times disdains the extra cash as “little.”
On December 2018, The NYT reported the wage-gains since the August enforcement:
[Juan] Grant, only two years out of high school and still finding his way in the world. He said it felt good to be earning $11.23 an hour, even if the new job entailed cutting off necks and pulling out guts on a seemingly endless conveyor of carcasses. It was about $4 better, he said, than what he used to earn at a Madison County cookie factory.
… the opportunity to earn more than $11 an hour can still turn heads in this part of Mississippi. Mr. Grant was not the only person to jump at the chance the raids provided. Niah Hill, manager of the Sonic Drive-In in Morton, said 10 of her workers quit soon after the raid at Koch Foods. “When they heard about the raids they all went over there and got jobs right away,” Ms. Hill said. Carhops at this Sonic make $4.25 an hour — three dollars less than the state’s minimum wage — plus tips, she said.
But the NYT’s reporter dismissed the economic gains for working-class Americans, with a quote from a press release issued by the National Academies of Science:
A 2016 study on the effects of immigration on the United States economy found that immigration had “little long run effect” on American wages.
The actual study told a very different story.
The study admits migrants do help push down wages, especially among lower-wage workers. For example, on page 171 of its September 2016 report, the academies’ experts agreed to a formula which shows that immigration imposes a 5.2 percent income tax on Americans:
Immigrant labor accounts for 16.5 percent of the total number of hours worked in the United States, which . . . implies that the current stock of immigrants lowered [Americans’] wages by 5.2 percent.
The NAS panel declined to state the dollar value of the 5.2 percent immigration tax. But panel member George Borjas, a Harvard economist, calculated the value of the tax at $500 billion a year. This $500 billion immigration tax is not paid to the government — it is paid by employees to employers and investors who gain whenever wages are lowered by the increased supply of workers jostling and competing for wages. That’s a political boon for Democrats because economic pressure tends to push Americans to vote for the big-spending party.
The press release hid that immediate damage by focusing reporters’ attention to the “long-run” — while ignoring the reality that the “long-run” will never arrive if the federal government keeps adding imported labor.
Almost 50% of U.S. employees got higher wages in 2019, up from almost 40% in 2018.
That’s useful progress – but wage growth will likely rise faster if Congress stopped inflating the labor supply for the benefit of business. https://t.co/4Q7KgaOJkW
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) December 24, 2019
After downplaying the wage losses, the NYT article also downplayed the transfer of jobs from Americans to illegal migrants, starting in the late-1970s. For example, the author quoted a local African-American activist sympathizing with the illegals, despite the loss of jobs to Americans:
Wesley Odom, 79, president of the Scott County N.A.A.C.P., spoke of the family members separated — the Hispanic mothers and fathers who remain in custody, as well as the moments, on the day of the raids, when some schoolchildren must have wondered whether they would walk into empty homes. “The blacks were witness to that same thing as slaves,” he said.
The NYT article also downplayed the impact of cheap labor on Americans’ productivity. For example, companies have used cheap labor to avoid investing in labor-saving technology that would improve Americans’ working conditions and wages.
But in President Donald Trump’s tight labor market, companies are being pressured to invest in the labor-saving machinery that allows Americans to be paid more for doing more work every day. In Fremont, Nebraska, Costco has opened huge chicken industry and a high-tech-factory — with 1,000 jobs — to deliver roughly 100 million chickens to customers nationwide annually. It is reportedly paying local Americans $13 to $17 per hour to work on the chicken processing line.
In September, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited Costco’s chicken-processing factory, according to a report in the Fremont Tribune:
“With all the processing, I mentioned one factor: It looked like the deboning process, mechanically, was better than I could do by hand,” he said. “And so it delivers a consistent product, which is what the consumer is looking for.”
“It’s just a great ecosystem that develops,” Perdue said. “It allows us, the United States, to enjoy the lowest-cost food in all the developed world. It takes things like this to continue. This is cutting-edge.”
“The technology and innovation out there today, optic technology, sensors, using less water, using less inputs with more productivity, that’s what it’s going to take to make the family farmers survive,” he said. “And it takes all of us.”
A second report in the Fremont Tribune said nearly all the workers were recruited locally:
[Company spokesman Jessica] Kolterman said around 97% of the current employees are from Fremont and the surrounding communities, which have also seen the creation of new businesses as a result of the plant.
“Anecdotal comments on why they chose to come work for us have run the gamut, but many have cited wanting a shorter commute, not wanting to ever be caught outside of their community again during a flood event, wanting more opportunities for growth, better pay, benefits and the like,” she said.
Despite Costco’s pay increase, the wages for slaughterhouse workers remain far below the $20 per hour peak in the 1980s. Since then, wages have dropped as companies worked with the federal government to weaken unions and import illegals.
However, the NYT’s article is typical of media coverage, because very few establishment reporters follow the money through the immigration debate.
NYT’s Tom Edsall says Trump’s immigration-reform voters are ‘snakes and vermin.’
Edsall usually tries to understand ordinary Americans’ concerns. But he & his elite peers live in a bubble & just don’t see immigration’s huge economic damage to Americans.https://t.co/jj6CNuos0r
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) December 16, 2019