Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who are the job creators?

A study performed by a University of Alabama economist found that Alabama's tough new anti-immigrant law could be hurting the state's economy more than it is helping, by costing the state billions in reduced demand for goods and services, as well as causing substantial losses in sales tax and other tax revenue. The law is estimated to have caused more than 40,000 workers to flee the state. Contrary to the hopes of the law's supporters, the vast majority of the low wage jobs those workers were performing have not been filled by documented workers. Alabama farmers and factory owners are  reporting difficulty replacing the workers scared off by the immigration crackdown, leading to declines in production. As the study author points out, if these employers were able to fill all those jobs with citizens, they would not be complaining about the new law. And we're hearing lots of complaints by those employers. In sum, the costs of driving out so many low income workers appear to far exceed the benefits. 

My point is not so much about immigration policy. It is that we should not under-estimate or denigrate the economic impact of the least well off among us. After low wage workers are done paying local landlords their rent, they tend to spend the entire rest of their paychecks in local grocery stores and all kinds of other businesses. All that spending supports jobs. That makes all of us job creators, and those at the lower end of the economic spectrum might be proportionately the biggest job creators of all.

No comments:

Post a Comment