Immigration can help the economy, but there are also many negative aspects to immigrant workers that do far more harm than good. When jobs that would go to unemployed Americans are being given over to immigrant workers entering the country via a work visa, the American economy suffers. Most such immigrant workers do not become citizens, and the money they take from the economy is returned to their origin country. It is important for Americans to know what they need to do keep their jobs and prevent the influx of immigrant workers.
Multiple analyses of the job market and unemployment seem positive. Overall, many new jobs have been created in the last decade. While some industries have died out and displaced their workers, many other jobs have opened to fill the gap. Unemployment has decreased steadily over time. This leads some to argue that immigration either has no negative effect or possibly even a positive effect on the economy.
Unfortunately, a basic look at the statistics misses some important points. The reality is that most of the new jobs created since 2007 have gone to immigrant workers. Creating new jobs doesn’t help Americans if those Americans can’t get the jobs. A deep look at employment statistics shows that unemployment has likely decreased mostly due to the long-term unemployed falling out of the job market completely. The strongest demographic is native born men, who many assume would be the most likely to get back work.
Displacement of High Paying Jobs
One of the fastest growing job markets involves technology and the computer industry. These tend to be high-paying professional jobs that would greatly benefit the American economy. Except they often don’t. The H-1b visa is used to allow foreign nationals to work in the United States in certain professional positions. The vast majority of these visas go to Indian’s who work in tech jobs.
The idea behind the H-1b visa was to ensure companies in vital or growing industries have the staff they needed in case it can’t be found in the local population. Foreigners would fill the gap while native workers were trained and prepared to replace them. Unfortunately, this system isn’t working as intended, and it often works in reverse: American workers are training their foreign replacements before being laid off. This is because the work visas have opened the door to allow companies to undercut American workers with cheaper foreign replacements. Since many of these workers are hired by foreign staffing companies instead of the actual American companies they work in, many of the provisions and protections built into the visa program are sidestepped. The entire system has become an effective and mostly hidden means of outsourcing some of the best jobs in the country.
Fixing the Tech Industry Employment Problem
Fixing the problem with work visas requires at least two things to happen. First, the visa program itself must be restructured so that companies can longer abuse its privilege at the expense of American workers. The second is for American workers to rise to the employment opportunities presented. One reason tech companies look elsewhere is because there are too few properly trained and educated Americans to fill the gap. The abundance of foreign labor compared to the lack of American labor makes immigrant workers cheaper by virtue of supply and demand. Creating an abundance of properly educated American workers would make foreign workers look less attractive.
Americans can make themselves more hirable by focusing their education in the proper fields of study such as:
- Computer science
- Information technology and networking
- Database administration
- Web development
- Software and game design
Funding a New Education
Funding an education or going back for a new degree can be expensive. Most students must borrow money to afford college. This is an especially daunting challenge for the unemployed. Those who have been out of work may also need money for various other expenses, and they wonder how to get a loan with no job.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to borrow money even with no job or proof of income. Federal student aid is always available without income or need of a cosigner, and it is the first stop for most students. Those with low income may also apply for grants and need to borrow less money.
Borrowing loans for other expenses can be financially risky. Unsecured personal loans tend to have significantly higher interest rates and fees. It is important to have a plan to pay the loans back before their interest becomes crippling or damaging to credit.
There is hope that the Trump Administration will revamp the problems with work visas and put more Americans back to work as promised. Until then, Americans can make themselves stand out from foreign competition by making themselves better educated and overall superior workers worth their price.