Immigration is a labor issue throughout the U.S. economy, the biggest in the world. Just ask the nation’s nursing home and home health-care employers.
For more of the story, we turn to the Wall Street Journal of July 26. “The American Health Care Association, which represents for-profit nursing homes, and the National Association for Home Care both joined an industry coalition to lobby Congress for a new visa that they hoped would annually admit 400,000 low-skilled workers”the grist of the home-care field”which would be equal to the number that now arrive illegally.”
In the meantime, it is unclear what exactly is “low-skilled” about caring for people living in their homes. Presumably, the WSJ reporter has little first-hand knowledge in helping those home-bound with daily activities such as bathing, cooking and dressing.
Those who do have such experience know who you are. Such labor requires a high degree of skill.
Presumably, home health-care employers have a weak need to hire U.S. citizens. They include those folks bumped from welfare rolls to “workfare” under the law signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton 10 years ago.
Further, the WSJ story reveals that some home health-care employers are lawbreakers. It is of course unfair to single out this sector. Employers throughout the U.S. economy routinely hire migrant workers.
Let us be clear on another count. The AHCA and NAfCH lobbying Congress is nothing less than the seeking of government intervention for the buyers of labor services.
Believers in the so-called free market such as Milton Friedman would oppose such action. For him and likeminded individuals, markets are supposed to function best when government steps aside. In this way, the forces of supply and demand are freed to better respond to the needs of buyers and sellers.
For example in the home-health care industry, a shortage of employees would cause their earnings to rise. Some companies would be able to pay the higher wages set by supply and demand. Other companies would not.
Old firms depart. New firms arrive. That is how a market economy functions.
By their actions, then, the AHCA and NAfCH do not believe in the ability of markets to work without government action. That action seeks in part to create a labor surplus to lower wages. Foreign workers help to fit this bill.
This is not the final chapter in the economics of immigration politics for so-called “low-skilled” labor services. Just ask Congress. And watch what it does for illegal employers.
Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at: email@example.com