Originally published by Politico
The Trump administration’s immigration crackdown could severely limit American companies’ ability to hire workers in a tight labor market, economist Mark Zandi says.
“The labor market is very tight and we have a record number of open positions already, and it’s just going to get worse,” Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in the latest edition of the POLITICO Money podcast.
“If the president wants to build his wall between Mexico and the United States, he’s going to have to hire Mexicans to do it because there are literally no American construction workers there to do anything other than build the homes that are going up,” Zandi said. “Immigrants are key to the workforce in every industry. Every industry is going to feel it. It’s pretty much across the board.”
The nation’s jobless rate sits at just 3.8 percent with more job openings than available workers, Zandi noted, a situation made more acute by the aging of the U.S. workforce.
“It’s pretty clear that if we don’t increase the number of immigrants coming into the country, the growth in the labor force is going to come to a standstill and it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible for businesses to find the workers that they need,” he said. “And if they can’t find the workers, then growth is going to remain weak and it could even slow.”
Pete Wiersma, a dairy farmer in Buhl, Idaho, said on the podcast that without foreign-born workers he would not be able to milk his 1,400 cows. “We really need a system of legal migrant workers to help us in agriculture,” he said. “It’s really the only thing that is going to matter to us. There needs to be a legal, reasonable, sensible system to allow migrant workers to come in and work.”
He rejected the idea that many immigrants to the United States are dangerous criminals who need to be kept out. “My experience with my employees is that they are just regular people, regular family folks,” he said. “They like to spend time with their kids. They want to provide well for their families. They are decent. They are honorable. We get along great and treat each other with respect.”