Saturday, 5 March 2016

US farm lobby calls for higher immigration to reduce wages

Jason Richwine has an interesting article in National Review about a recent report put out by Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of business leaders (including arch evil-doer Rupert Murdoch) that lobbies for higher immigration. In short, the report calls for an increase in immigration of low-skilled farm workers to drive down wages in the agricultural sector. 

Richwine doesn't quote directly from the report in his piece, so I thought I'd so here, to illustrate just how blunt and indelicate the language is. In Part V, 'Evidence that the decline in workers led to a labour shortage', the report notes:
One consequence of the reduced supply of available farm labor is that it has become much more expensive for farms to hire seasonal farmworkers, a development that has placed a strain on many U.S. farms.
It then notes:
It should be little surprise then that in recent years––as immigration has slowed––wages for seasonal positions have increased. What is surprising, however, is by how much such wages have grown.
The report proceeds to show (by means of accompanying charts) that wages have risen much more in the agricultural sector than in other low-skilled sectors, due to the relative scarcity of low-skilled farm workers. It notes:
As the economy has improved and employment has increased, employers in non-agricultural industries have been able to find enough workers to fill job vacancies without upward pressure on wages. Farmers, on the other hand, faced a hard time finding sufficient numbers of laborers and have had to bid up wages to attract and retain workers. 
The report even calculates precisely how much wages were boosted by the reduction in labour supply:
Put simply, this elasticity means that each 1.3 percent drop in the available supply of labor results in a one percent increase in the wages paid to field and crop workers.

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