I saw an article in our local paper, the Raleigh News and Observer, entitled, Industries Fear New Wage Rules. The article was exploring the new wage rules that are being imposed by the Department of Labor on industries that hire immigrant workers on H2-B, temporary work visas. Wages are projected to increase, on average, almost 50 percent - from $7.43 an hour to $11.18 an hour under the new rules. The higher wage is in line with the minimum wage paid in most regions. The reporter interviewed a number of small industry owners such as oyster processors, reforestation services, and even hotel owners for the impact of the upcoming change in the law. Not surprisingly, the owners are not happy, feeling that the increase in the wages they will have to pay will drive many of them out of business. Not a good deal.
But what struck me in the story was a couple of paragraphs in the article:
Employers say that they rely on foreign workers for the dirty, back-breaking tasks that Americans aren't willing to do - even with the current high unemployment rate. And, they stress, they're required to document their efforts to hire Americans before the government permits them to hire foreign workers.
Further on, the article states:
Susan Pentz, 60, who along with her husband owns the 18-room Harborside Motel on Ocracoke Island, has been bringing in two housekeepers each tourist season for the past decade. She turned to foreign workers, she said, after struggling to hire locals and discovering that those she was able to hire soon quit or showed up only when they felt like it. "The bottom line is, I ended up cleaning the rooms because... no wanted to do that kind of manual labor," Perez said.
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. The authors of the book are trying to get us to focus on the multiple forces are in play that are causing us to slide from the leadership position we have enjoyed since at least the end of World War II.
The Big Challenges in their minds are:
- Globalization and the Information Technology Revolution
- The Return of Strong Middle Class Jobs
- Rising National Debt and the Deficit
- The Need for Green and Clean Energy
To address these issues, they outline what they call the Five Pillars of Prosperity:
- Providing much better public education for more and more Americans
- Continuing to build and modernize our infrastructure
- Keeping America's doors open to immigration
- Government support for basic R&D
- Implementing limited but necessary regulation on private economic activity