Unemployment AND “Labor Shortages”? No—An Immigrant Longage!
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Here’s a thought for an enterprising candidate (Michele Bachmann?) in the GOP Ames, Iowa straw poll debate on Thursday night:

Cite immigration as a cause of unemployment!

Because of the U.S. bond rating reduction and the subsequent stock market shambles, most Main Stream Media analysts failed to notice last week’s unemployment numbers…or maybe they don’t know what to say. It’s at 9.1 percent, stubbornly high for several months now according to a Labor Department announcement on August 3.

VDARE.com’s Ed Rubenstein has been monitoring immigrant displacement of American workers since 2001. Here I want to show more evidence that immigration is linked to high unemployment .

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a handy-dandy table of unemployment figures each month. Glance at the table for five minutes, and it’s to see that the trouble spot is California. Of the 372 metropolitan areas in the country that are listed, 13 of the 15 areas with the worst unemployment rates are in California.

The bottom ten are:

Metropolitan Areas

Unemployment Rate

El Centro, Ca., Imperial County

28.5 %

Yuma, Az., Yuma County

26.9 %

Yuba City, Ca., Sutter County

19.3 %

Merced, Ca., Merced County

18.7 %

Modesto, Ca., Stanislaus County

17.2 %

Fresno, Ca., Fresno County

16.8 %

Stockton, Ca., San Joaquin County

16.7 %

Hanford-Corcoran, Ca., Kings County

16.7 %

Visalia-Porterville, Ca., Tulare County

15.8 %

Bakersfield-Delano, Ca., Kern County

15.3 %

For those unfamiliar with western geography, El Centro and Yuma Counties sit just north of the Mexican border. (So close to Mexico, so far from heaven.) These two areas are heavily agricultural.

The other eight counties make up the agricultural ribbon running down central California. These counties have a few cities and the rest of the population lives in unincorporated areas.

Here is a link to a map (Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census - NYTimes.com) of the population changes in the United States between 2000 and 2010. More detail is available by clicking on the individual counties.

Go to the southern border and click on the two counties just north of Mexico and on each side of the California-Arizona border. These are Imperial and Yuma Counties.

Between 2000 and 2010, Imperial County’s population increased by 22.6% and currently stands at 80% Hispanic. The White population is 14%. In Yuma County, the population increased by 22.3%. Hispanics make up 60% of the population and Whites 35%. In both counties, during the past decade, Whites moved out and Hispanics moved in.

Imperial and Yuma growers depend heavily on Hispanic farm workers. Some of the workers have lived there for years. But, despite the high unemployment in both counties, greedy labor contractors and farmers insist they do not have enough labor. For example: Yuma group suing farm labor contractor for hiring foreigners, Associated Press, December 22, 2007.

In a more recent article, the New York Times reported from Patterson in Stanislaus County, another of the ten-worst:

“Farmers across the country are rallying to fight a Republican sponsored bill that would force them and all other employers to verify the legal immigration status of their workers, something they say could imperil not only future harvests but also the agricultural community’s traditional support for conservative candidates.”[Farmers Oppose G.O.P. Bill on Immigration, By Jesse McKinley and Julia Preston, July 30, 2011]

So let’s understand this. If Republicans in Congress do not continue to let farmers hire illegal aliens, then farmers will support Democrats.

Is that right? Feels like blackmail. Who is promising this retribution?

The NYT quotes one George Bonacich, age 81, who grows apricots in Patterson, California, stated in the New York Times article above, “If we don’t have enough labor at peak time, the fruit goes on the ground.” Right, but is that likely?

The unemployment rate in Patterson was an extraordinary 23.3% in June. (A fact that, oddly, did not make it into the NYT article). The California Economic Development Department reported that in June, Patterson had 6,200 workers, 4,800 employed and 1,400 unemployed. [See details here, courtesy of California's LaborMarketInfo.]

And if 1,400 unemployed people in Patterson will not help Farmer Bonacich pick his apricots, another city close by, Riverbank, has an unemployment rate of 25.2%—2,350 unemployed people.

Some might question whether these unemployed people are farm workers. People who live in California know that most are. But for the unconvinced, here’s more:

Patterson is small. In the Patterson Joint Unified School District, of the 4,000 students, no less than half do not speak English and over two-thirds are “Socioeconomically Disadvantaged”, according to the California Department of Education.(These are either students  "neither of whose parents have received a high school diploma" or students eligible for free lunch program.)

These children have immigrant parents, legal or illegal. They are poor; many do not speak English. Their parents are almost certainly farm workers. And, as we all know, kids with poor, uneducated parents do not grow up and live happily ever after. It does not matter if they come from Michigan or Michoacan.

For example, many poor Hispanic youths join gangs. Here are two articles on gangs. The first is from Santa Barbara, CA, where I used to live before escaping to small-town Washington State. The second from…small town Washington State.


“Grant County, with a population hovering around 89,000, hardly dominates the national radar as a center for gang activity. Yet the area logged nearly 100 robberies and shootings last year, all gang-related — including a 10-year-old boy shot in the head when his parents' trailer was riddled with bullets, and a 13-year-old girl injured in a drive-by while she sat in her living room”.

Many of these gang members were born in the USA. They are neither legal nor illegal immigrants. They are not going home. They are citizens of the USA. And they are unemployed.

The facts are the facts, neither Republican nor Democratic. Our country has no farm worker “shortage”. We have a longage of poor, unskilled, unemployed immigrant farm workers and their anchor-baby children. And they will remain unemployed while agribusiness has the easy option of importing more

We have no shortage of workers, period. We have millions of Americans who are unemployed. We do not need any more legal, illegal or temporary-visa workers. We need an immigration moratorium.

Too bad the political class won’t talk about it.

How about it, GOP candidates?


Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.

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