Is there a post-Housing Bubble illegal immigrant crime wave coming? The Financial Times reports:
US illegal migrants up almost 500,000 a year By Edward Alden in Washington
The number of illegal immigrants in the US has continued to grow by nearly half a million each year in spite of US efforts to increase security at the country’s borders, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
The study, by the Pew Hispanic Center, said that the population of unauthorised migrants reached between 11.5m and 12m last year, accounting for nearly a third of the foreign-born population in the US. That number is up from roughly 8.4m in 2000...
In reality, that number could be even higher. The Pew Hispanic Center has a liberal bias (although it is admirably more honest than most institutions on immigration issues).
The Pew survey underscored the substantial presence of illegal workers in the US labour market. It estimated about 4.9 per cent of the US labour force, or 7.2m workers, was composed of unauthorised migrants.
So, about 40% of "undocumented workers" aren't workers. Interesting. And that's not counting "the 3.1 million children who are U.S. citizens by birth living in families in which the head of the family or a spouse was unauthorized," who get turned into automatic American citizens by the current (but dubious) interpretation of the 14th Amendment.
Nearly a third of those work in service occupations, 19 per cent in construction and 15 per cent in production, installation and repair jobs.
Since only 49% of illegal immigrants are adult males, according to Pew, that would suggest that three-eighths of male illegal immigrant workers are in construction, which is perhaps the most boom-and-bust sensitive sector of the economy. In this decade, very low interest rates and very high home housing prices have driven a construction boom.
But what happens when the Housing Bubble inevitably deflates?
A reader writes:
"Here’s something to contemplate – something I have not seen mentioned. It is perhaps not widely appreciated that when a recession hits the residential construction industry, the layoffs are not just 10 or 20% of the labor force, but more like 80%. ... What will the laid off illegal immigrants do? Go home? Probably not. They will not be able to get jobs in the U.S. There is really only one option: crime."
I'm not sure. The linkage between periods of unemployment and high crime rates is uncertain. But I'm definitely not reassured.