American Workers – The Health of the Labor Market

The current labor participation rate is at 62.6 percent with a continuous decline of unemployment since 2010. The private section has added 12.8 million jobs over 64 straight months which is the longest streak of private section job creation on record.  But relying on theses figure as a diagnoses for an nonfluctuating economy would be deceptive to the active market that is ever changing from season to season.

The decline of the unemployment rate is a somewhat deceptive analysis of current labor functionality and anticipated labor participation. Despite the progress, we cannot fill the positions adequately.

The decline of the labor force participation is mainly a result of several structures changes in the labor market to include the aging of the workforce and technology. A recent White House’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) stated prime age men have been leaving the labor force because of lower wages and higher wage inequality. CEA suggests there are several efforts that could bring a significant amount of prime age workers back into the labor force such as increase a child tax credit or earned income credit and reducing the marginal tax rate on secondary earners. The ability to get these prime age group to re-enter the labor force has been a larger challenge then ever expected.

What is to become of our labor force that is going through an economic boom but still has no signs of offering a sustainable future to its workers? The American economy is growing leaps and bounds but the ability to meet the growth rate has taken a consequential down slide. How do we keep the current American worker from losing their employment due to a company’s inability to recruit laborers willing to tackle jobs deemed ”less desirable” by this country’s standard of living.

Without the re-establishment of economic value of our workforce laborers it will be improbable that we will ever have the multitude of workers we once did before the new age of technology and prior to the Great Depression. Without the assistance of the H-2B non-immigrant workers many Americans would have already lost their jobs.

We hear constant reports on how non-immigration take American jobs and leaves our unemployment at a high rate. But what is failed to be mentioned is that every single H-2B sustains 5 American jobs which in turn dramatically benefits our economy and bolsters existing year round employment.  We must remember that a “labor force” is a worker that not only lacks a job but is actively searching for employment within the past 4 weeks and is able and available to work; unemployed or employed still makes them a part of the labor force.

With the impending growth rate of the non-agriculture industry, keeping up with current demands are literally impossible without the help of our non-immigrant workers programs.

Congress Has Made Some Progress

Currently the H-2B programs allows a total of 66,000 non-immigrant seasonal workers to work in the United States for no longer then a work season which is margined at 9 months.  This helps but will not tackle the current lack of employee issues we current face in the non-agriculture industry.

Effective December 18, 2015 that program was modified to allow non-immigrants classified as “returning workers” exempt from the fiscal year’s annual cap of 66K visas.  They have continuously supplied the American work force with the help they needed to thrive.

As of September 2016 the Returning Work Exemption expired leaving numerous companies shut out of the program. The annual cap of 66K is not adequate enough to meet the demands on the growing economy.  Employees and employers are in dire need of this exemption.

We can only hope the 115th Congress will act diligently to reinstate the H-2B returning workers exemption so that US businesses, their workers and local communities can all optimize their growth through sustainability of the current economic demands.

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