Column | A Labor Day Wish – More Jobs for Americans
Don’t be deceived by media reporting about the jobs market. Economists like to say that the monthly data is encouraging or shows improvement. A lot of smoke is thrown out at the unsuspecting about seasonal adjustments, monthly revisions or weather-related declines that, when the jobs numbers are too miserable to overlook, is intended to distract.
For recent college graduates, laid off professionals and especially minority job seekers with no more than a high school diploma, finding meaningful employment, the type that will sustain a family, is tough sledding.
Start with the sobering fact that the United States’ employers have manipulated their hiring patterns to eliminate full-time workers, and instead substitute part-timers. What was once a full-time position is now part-time.
Recently, friends and I were talking about our children’s and grandchildren’s job prospects. Each of us recalled that our first post-college jobs were full-time, with generous health care benefits, paid vacations and pension plans – unheard of today.
Wall Street analysts play down the part-time angle. To hear them tell it, Americans seek out the flexibility or enjoy working at home. That may be true in some cases, but ask those flexibility-seekers if they’d rather have time away from the office to live a more balanced life, as the claim goes, or to have comprehensive medical insurance, and an income substantial enough to save a few bucks. The resounding answer: “I’ll take 9-5.”
Given the good jobs shortage, and decades-old wage stagnation, Congress should use every tool it has to put Americans back to work. Translated: pass mandatory E-Verify that will assure increasingly scarce U.S. jobs are held either by citizens or legal residents. Congress has kicked around E-Verify legislation for two decades while the Pew Research Center estimates that about eight million illegally present workers hold non-farm jobs in manufacturing, administration and retail.
Yet, inexplicably former House Speaker John Boehner and current Speaker Paul Ryan have refused to bring E-Verify legislation, which the House Judiciary Committee passed, to the floor for a full vote. Baffling, that is, unless Boehner, Ryan and their donors prefer cheaper-to-hire illegal immigrants, and not citizens or authorized workers, hold increasingly hard-to-land jobs.
Employers have no valid excuse not to use E-Verify. The program replaces the easily falsified I-9, is online, free and easy to administer. Among the millions of worksites that use E-Verify, approval ratings are higher than for any government program, over 90 percent for existing employers and new enrollees. I’m E-Verified, my approval took less than three minutes and was so fast and simple that an existing HR rep administered the Q and A. No new staff required.
As President Trump bloviates about building his “Great Wall” as a deterrent to illegal immigrant job seekers, his energy would be better spent leaning on his Senate nemesis Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to rally his caucus around S. 179, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley introduced S. 179 eight months ago, and it has a measly 11 co-sponsors, all Republicans. The other 41 Senate Republicans are sitting on their hands, content in the knowledge that each passing day without E-Verify is a day that an American could lose an employment opportunity to an illegally present immigrant.
Labor Day weekend offers a perfect time for concerned Americans to pick up their phones to call their senators. Demand they co-sponsor S. 179 and defend American workers. Or ask them to explain, if they can, why they don’t support their unemployed or underemployed constituents.
Congress interprets inaction as indifference.