The slowing economy seems finally to be impacting the job market—but immigrants are still gaining at the expense of Americans.
Payroll employment rose by a weaker than expected 88,000 positions in April. But the "other" employment survey—of households rather than companies – indicates a plunge rather than a mere slowdown. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, "The Employment Situation: April 2007," May 4, 2007. PDF ]
Hispanic household employment, which we use as a proxy for immigration because about half of the Hispanics in the U.S. are foreign-born, fell 468,000 in April. That's the most since the recession month of November 2002. But all racial groups lost ground, and whites took the biggest hit. Here are the details:
Proportionately, the white job loss was about 23 times the Hispanic job loss.
April was the third month in a row in which Hispanic employment either grew faster, or fell less, than non-Hispanic employment. This, of course, is the norm. Since the start of the Bush Administration (January 2001) through April 2007 Hispanic employment has grown by 4.166 million, or by 25.9 percent. Non-Hispanic employment increased by 3.844 million, or just 3.2 percent.
VDARE.com's Index of American Job Displacement (VDAWDI), calculated as the ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth indices during the Bush years, rose to a record 122.0 in April, up from 121.6 in March.
April 2007 was one of those rare months in which job growth as measured by the household survey lagged that of the payroll survey. Since January 2001 household survey employment has risen by a little over 8 million, or 5.8 percent. Over the same period the payroll survey found 5.2 million new jobs were created, an increase of 4.0 percent.
While the payroll survey estimated that 137.7 million workers held jobs in April, the Household Survey counted 145.8 million – about 8 million more.
For at least the last several years, the payroll survey is acknowledged to have missed about one-third of actual job growth. Those undercounts were eventually corrected—but few pay attention to job tallies published one year and a month after the fact. As far as month to month job changes, economists now regard the household survey as far more accurate.
Why has the household survey gained credibility? Some economists have argued that new economy workers such as part-time consultants, independent contractors, eBay entrepreneurs, and even real estate agents – i.e., people who are not on payrolls, but self-employed—show up in the household survey but not in the payroll survey.
For years we have pushed a better explanation: illegal aliens.
Illegal aliens will not show up in the payroll survey for the simple reason that employers who admit to hiring them risk stiff penalties. (Even though the Bush Administration has shown little inclination to enforce these laws.)
And the gap between the two employment surveys— 8 million jobs— strongly resembles the estimated number of illegal immigrant workers (6 million.)
Typical of America's inhibited public debate, mainstream economists studiously ignore this argument. But it will break through eventually—no doubt when the Center for Immigration Studies publishes a paper claiming credit!
After two years of embarrassingly large upward payroll employment revisions, the acting Director of BLS, Phil Rones, has the chutzpah to claim the jobs numbers aren't biased in any direction. "There has not been a systematic undercount in the job estimates," he is quoted as saying.[ The Jobs Miscount WSJ, April 23, 2007]
Just what we need—more denial in DC.
Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.