The surreptitious expansion of low-skill work visas, slipped through in last month’s massive federal spending bill, finally has been addressed — but with a duplicitous explanation: Why, the increase in H-2B non-farm work visas was necessary to fill jobs.
So says House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who told a radio interviewer that without the increase, businesses would face shortages of seasonal workers, reports Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. Unfortunately, the economics don’t add up.
First, some background: Bundled with the year-end, $1.1 trillion spending bill was a measure to vastly expand the H-2B visa program, potentially increasing low-skilled guest workers from 66,000 to 264,000.
But if, in fact, there were a demand for these workers, it surely would be reflected in higher salaries. Prices rise when demand exceeds supply.
Camarota crunched the numbers and found that many related occupations instead saw a decline in annual wages (adjusted for inflation) between 2007 and 2014 (except for some meager wage growth for maids and housekeepers). It’s not exactly evidence of a worker shortage. But for businesses, the influx of guest workers (and at a reduced cost) is a government gift.
On Capitol Hill, there is no shortage of corporate cronyism.
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