Whenever Eduardo Porter has a piece in the Times, I read it. He is the only economics writer whom I always read.
I have trouble understanding large-scale economics. I am a (self-described) whiz at, well, home economics: I manage all my financial doings myself, including doing my own taxes and handling investments without financial advice. But when it comes to writings about world-wide economics, my brain goes splat.
Except when I read Eduardo Porter.
He writes beautifully, yes. That is, I actually understand everything he’s saying, even though he’s reporting on matters I usually don’t understand.
He translates otherwise impenetrable research reports into clear and comprehensible English. And he reports on facts in such a way my eyes open in wonder, because what he’s telling us–which he does without confrontational language or condescension–often contradicts widely accepted, not to say hysterical, beliefs.
So do read his New York Times piece today. It’s exciting and fascinating. It should render Trump’s new immigration policy null and void. Because it’s destructive and stupid.
Here are a few Porter excerpts that’ll give you an idea about his factual, well-documented report:
Let’s just say it plainly: The United States needs more low-skilled immigrants.
You might consider, for starters, the enormous demand for low-skilled workers, which could well go unmet as the baby boom generation ages out of the labor force, eroding the labor supply. Eight of the 15 occupations expected to experience the fastest growth between 2014 and 2024 — personal care and home health aides, food preparation workers, janitors and the like — require no schooling at all.
The politics of immigration are driven, to this day, by the proposition that immigrant laborers take the jobs and depress the wages of Americans competing with them in the work force. It is a mechanical statement of the law of supply and demand: More workers spilling in over the border will inevitably reduce the price of work…
But it is largely wrong. It misses many things: that less-skilled immigrants are also consumers of American-made goods and services; that their cheap labor raises economic output and also reduces prices. It misses the fact that their children tend to have substantially more skills. In fact, the children of immigrants contribute more to state fiscal coffers than do other native-born Americans…
Two economists, Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, and Chad Sparber of Colgate University, compared the labor markets of states that received lots of low-skilled immigrants between 1960 and 2000 and those that received few. In the states that received many such immigrants, less-educated American-born workers tended to shift out of lower-skilled jobs — like, say, fast-food cooks — and into work requiring more communications skills, like customer-service representatives.
Interestingly, the most vulnerable groups of American-born workers — men, the young, high school dropouts and African-Americans — experienced a greater shift than other groups. And the wages of communications-heavy jobs they moved into increased relative to those requiring only manual labor.
Porter ends his article thusly:
If there is anything to fear, it is not a horde of less-educated workers ready to jump over the border. The United States’ main immigration problem, looking into the future, is that too few low-skilled immigrants may be willing to come.
As the National Academies noted about its report, “The inflow of labor supply has helped the United States avoid the problems facing other economies that have stagnated as a result of unfavorable demographics, particularly the effects of an aging work force and reduced consumption by older residents.” There will be an employment hole to fill.
The quote from the National Academies in that last paragraph was the only time reading this article that my eyes glazed over.