The immigrant share of the labor force reached a record high of 18.6% in 2023, according to our analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 Anti-immigration advocates have been out in full force, using this as a talking point for deeply misguided commentary and analysis that roughly translates to “immigrants are taking all our jobs.” The reality is that the economy does not have a fixed number of jobs, and what we see today is a growing economy that is adding jobs for both immigrants and U.S.-born workers. Here are six key facts that show immigrants are not hurting the employment outcomes of U.S.-born workers.
Finance and the Economy
In our last show, which we entitled “The Debt Explosion: How Neoliberalism Fuels Debt Crises“, we promised that our next show would be about what the solution is, what is the solution to the myriad problems that we were describing. And that is indeed what we are going to discuss today. The solution, we feel, in the United States and in all countries that have gone down the road of neoliberalism and financialization involves a root and branch reform of the financial system. And this would be the foundation for the urgent economic transformation. It will be the single largest component of the economic transformation that so many of us realize we also badly need.
This week on February 2nd, the US Labor Department released its monthly jobs report for January. One of the Department's two surveys showed +353,000 jobs created in January. But a second report shows a drop in total employment in January of -1,070,000 full time and part-time jobs (and an additional -400,000 jobs if one includes unincorporated independent contractors jobs. So, like the Bible, one can find whatever one wants in the government job stats. So why the discrepancies between the two surveys in the monthly jobs report? One reason is that the two surveys have big differences in their methodologies (and underlying assumptions).
More than 20 years ago, the Economic Policy Institute created the first version of the Family Budget Calculator (FBC). Since then, we have continuously made improvements to the methodology and updated it regularly with the latest data available. This interactive tool estimates the income needed for families of different sizes and compositions to afford basic necessities in different parts of the country. EPI’s family budget tool is frequently used to gauge the adequacy of labor earnings. It has been cited by living-wage advocates, private employers, academics, and policymakers who are looking for comprehensive measures of economic security.
What’s scarier than a shark attack? An increase in the minimum wage. At least that’s what many corporate media outlets seem to want you to believe, given the apocalyptic tone of much of the coverage of California’s recent decision to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour, starting this April, a bump from the current level of $16. While outlets like the New York Times (10/23/23), the Associated Press (9/28/23), CalMatters (12/21/23, 9/28/23) and the Sacramento Bee (9/29/23, 9/15/23, 9/11/23) have responsibly covered the policy change, highlighting the large positive effects that it will likely have on workers, others are obsessively accentuating the negatives.
What Is The Commons Economy? It’s an economy in which the essentials of life – housing, energy, land, food, water, transport, social care, the means of exchange etc. are owned in common, in communities, rather than by absentee landlords, corporations or the state. Commons have 3 parts: a) resources / assets, b) ‘commoners’ – local people who control and use them, and c) a set of rules, written by the commoners, so that they’re not lost, by being sold or used up. We’re not talking about ‘open access’ public goods like the oceans, atmosphere, sunlight or rainfall or ‘anything to do with building community’, but commons based on the principles laid out by Elinor Ostrom in Governing the Commons.
Reading the tea leaves for the 2024 economy is challenging. On January 5th, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said we have achieved a “soft landing,” with wages rising faster than prices in 2023. But critics are questioning the official figures, and prices are still high. Surveys show that consumers remain apprehensive. There are other concerns. On Dec. 24, 2023, Catherine Herridge, a senior investigative correspondent for CBS News covering national security and intelligence, said on “Face the Nation,” “I just feel a lot of concern that 2024 may be the year of a black swan event. This is a national security event with high impact that’s very hard to predict.”
Jennifer Brandsberg-Engelmann, an international secondary school educator and curriculum developer, had long been appalled by the dismal state of economics education for young people. Students at middle and high schools learn about a "degenerative economic system," as she puts it, in which "the economy" is framed as something separate from society and nature. With little sense of contemporary realities, economics courses assume that endless economic growth is desirable and possible. It focuses on businesses and markets, ignoring the vital role that household care and the commons play.
As anybody who lived through the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 knows, banking can be hazardous. Failures can hit millions hard, wiping out life savings, tossing the economy into chaos, and messing with investments, spending, and overall growth. Capital requirements are supposed to be crucial buffers shielding banks from catastrophes, rooted in centuries of financial evolution from Alexander Hamilton up through the New Deal regulatory regime and modern international agreements like the Basel Accords. But current regulators’ efforts to raise the capital ratios of big banks to safe levels are strongly opposed by most financiers, sparking debates on finding a balance between stability and financial risk, all amid intense political pressures.
Back in the early 20th century, earnest middle-class reformers out to overturn America’s plutocratic order gravitated to the pages of The Public, a weekly magazine whose editor, Louis Post, would become the U.S. assistant secretary of labor in 1913. One year later, the associate editor of The Public would offer a cutting critique of the legal system that so protected our nation’s plutocratic powers-that-be. That system, Stoughton Cooley of The Public avowed, rendered judgments “so far from justice and common sense” that average citizens believe “absolutely that the poor have no redress against the rich.”
In 2020, the Trump team’s last full year, U.S. households annually making over $1 million faced fewer tax audits than households with incomes low enough to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. That had never happened before. But the blame for this plutocratic about-face, a new Americans for Tax Fairness report makes clear, doesn’t belong to the Trump crew alone. Rich people-friendly members of Congress gave Donald Trump his tax-cutting playbook. Ever since 2010, they had been squeezing the IRS budget big-time, forcing the agency “to drastically pull back on auditing the ultra-wealthy.” How drastically?
This first week of October has seen U.S. interest rates soar to the 5% level on long-term Treasury bonds. That has made long-term Treasuries one of most attractive investment vehicles in the world, or even the most attractive. One obvious result is that countries aiming to de-dollarize their central-bank reserves would make an untimely decision to move out of the dollar at this point. To avoid holding dollars in the form of US Treasury securities would mean holding foreign reserves denominated in a currency that is declining against the dollar. No other government is willing to make its currency so attractive to international investors (including central banks) by raising interest-rates so high.
Over the past 20 years, extreme weather events globally, like hurricanes, floods and heat waves, have cost an estimated $2.8 trillion, according to a new study. The study authors estimate the cost of the extreme weather damages from 2000 to 2019 to average around $143 billion, which breaks down to around $16.3 million per hour. The researchers analyzed studies that used a methodology known as Extreme Event Attribution (EEA), which connects human-related greenhouse gas emissions and changes in extreme weather events. They compared these analyses to socio-economic costs from extreme weather events to determine how much of the socio-economic costs of extreme weather events are linked to climate change.