Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Hotels: 8 million workers, many of them immigrants

Monday, January 13th, 2020

17% of the American workforce are foreign born, but 31% of hotel workers are foreign born. The wage levels tell why. Housekeepers at Marriott International, Inc. earn around $10.26. Comfort Inn and Suites pays the lowest at around $8.43. Holiday Inn Express pays $8.77.But Las Vegas hotels, staffed by union workers, pay housekeeper well above that, and annual total wages average about $29,000, The median annual wage income in the U.S. is about $37,000. Housekeeping is one of the non-customer facing jobs, such as kitchen crew and warehouse workers, which employ many immigrants with low formal education and poor English.

Photo credit: Earl Dotter.

Globalization = mass migration

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

After a holiday break, I am back.

Total global exports in 1980 were about $1 trillion. In 2018 they were $19.4 trillion. In the same period the number of persons living outside their country of birth went from 120 million to over 250 million (see graph).

Globalization links to international migration in several ways. Globalization of work makes more visible the disparities in income for the same work between countries.

An increase in the number of households with disposable income and more formal education increases the ease of migration.

Globalization, and migration, are aided by vast expansion of international air travel and by a huge drop in international communication barriers. International air travel in passengers grew from 640 million in 1980 to 4.2 billion in 2018.

Since 1990, remittance flows increased from $50B a year to over $550B.

It is not clear to me if and how globalization of work and trade leads to violent explosions of migration (Venezuela, Syria, Myanmar).

 

 

Venezuelan refugee crisis bigger than the Syrian crisis

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

The situation in Venezuela has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises this hemisphere has ever seen. Since 2015, 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country, about 16 percent of the population. The figure is strikingly similar to the 4.8 million people that had fled Syria by 2015. There could be as many as 6.5 million Venezuelans living outside of the country by 2020 (based on estimates from the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR).

Since 2013 the Venezuelan economy has contracted by 65 percent, the largest contraction outside of war in 45 years. The only close comparators are countries in active conflict, such as Liberia, which lost 90 percent of its GDP during its bloody civil war. But the Venezuelan economic collapse, which preceded international sanctions, stands out because it was not triggered by external forces or internal unrest: It was manufactured by those in power, and thus, was totally avoidable.

From Brookings

The farm worker crisis

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

The number of foreign farm workers entering through the temporary H 2A visa program jumped from 77,300 in FY 2011 to 257,700 in FY 2019, a 230% increase. In 2005 there were less than 50,000 visa holders. The five leading job titles were general farm workers, berries, tobacco, fruits and vegetables and apples. Jobs that require year-round employment, such as diary work, are not serviced by this visa.

Agriculture Dept data suggests that 600,000 of the 800,000 crop workers today are either visa holders (about 250,000) or working illegally (about 350,000). Farm workers are hard to count, thus the figures are approximations.

Put this into historical context: in 1950 there were 7.6 million family farm workers and 2.3 million hired workers. In 2000, the number of family workers declined by 75% and hired workers by half.

According to the Agriculture Dept’s official website, “the share of hired crop farmworkers who were not legally authorized to work in the United States grew from roughly 15% in 1989-91” about 50% today. Only a quarter are U.S. born.

Thus the farm workforce has become increasingly dependent on hired (and unauthorized) foreign workers. The average wage of crop workers is about $13 an hour.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, HR,5038, which on 11/21/19 was approved by an 18-12 vote of the House Judiciary Committee, is intended to normalize substantially all farm unauthorized workers into legal temporary status.

Choking off immigration to Texas

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Dallas News columnist Rob Curran writes, “You don’t need a degree from the London School of Economics to know that almost every roofer and framer responsible for the heavy lifting in the North Texas building boom of the last decade was an immigrant. You don’t need to be an agronomist to know that pretty much every watermelon you buy in Central Market was harvested by a migrant laborer.

North Texans are among the biggest beneficiaries from this sweat subsidy. People have flocked to this region because a high standard of living comes at a relatively low cost. But middle-class Texans may not always be able to afford a maid, a lawn guy and a regular breakfast taco.

I spoke to one landscaper in North Texas who did not wish to be named. He employed a group of about seven Mexican-born laborers for 10 years. He periodically paid immigration lawyers to have their paperwork renewed — an expensive, but viable proposition. In 2017, the landscaper’s crew returned to Mexico, as usual, but the lawyers could not get them back in. After some pricey back-and-forth with immigration authorities, the landscaper was told that his crew had renewed their visas too many times.”

Latinos in America Today: economics

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

More from the Latin Donor Collaborative report, today about economics:

Latinos are significantly more likely to be actively working or seeking work than non-Latinos. The U.S. Latino labor force participation (LFP) is 67.4 percent, five percentage points higher than non-Latino. Despite being only 18 percent of the U.S. population, Latinos are responsible for 82 percent of the growth of the U.S. labor force since the Financial Crisis.

Whereas the U.S. has average income growth of. just 4.7 percent over the past five years, income growth for Latinos has averaged 8.6 percent. U.S. Latinos enjoyed income growth of 14 percent in 2018.

Home-owning: Beginning in 2013, Latino growth of home ownership accelerated rapidly and grew by seven percent in 2017 alone. Meanwhile non-Latinos saw declining rates of homeownership from the earliest days of the financial crisis all the way through 2014. Although home ownership among non Latinos has begun to grow again, growth has remained belowtwo percent from 2015 to 2017.

However, home ownership among non-White Latinos has persistently been lower than Whites and Non-Latino other (from here)

Also, Latinos are far less wealthy than Whites: (from here):

Latinos in America Today: demographics

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

I will report in this and a following posting on historical changes in the Latino community in the U.S

A report from the Latino Donor Foundation estimates that if the US Latino population were considered an independent economy it would rank as the eighth largest economy in the world. The report also says that that U.S. Latinos account for nearly 30% of America’s growth in real income and from 2010 through 2017 U.S. Latino consumption grew 72% faster than non-Latinos US Latinos have comprise 87% of workforce growth since 2008.

Demographics: the report sets the Latino population at 58.7 million or 18% of total U.S. population. Annual Latino population growth was 2.0% in 2017 and has been above 2.0% for every recent year. Non-Latino population growth has been below 0.5% in each year from 2011 to 2018.

According to projections by the Census Bureau, by 2060, Latinos will have contributed 30 million people to the population of working age adults (age 18 to 64). In that same time, the population of non-Latino working age adults will have shrunk by one million.

This graph compares the age distribution of Latinos with non-Latinos.

Household formation: Growth in the number of Latino households from 2010-17 was extremely high, at 19 percent. For Non-Latinos, it was just three percent. Latino share of total households shot up from 11.6% to 13.2%

Education: although Latinos still lag behind non-Latinos in formal education (more less likely to complete HS or to get an BA) the improvement in educational achievement among 20-24 year olds between 2010 and 2017 is striking:

 

Eastern European countries quietly recruiting guest workers

Monday, October 7th, 2019

South Korea’s Hankook Tire this month delayed a $295 million investment at its factory in Hungary because of difficulties in recruiting employees. About 200 of its existing 3,000 workers at the plant are from Ukraine and Mongolia.

The labor force of the 21 countries between the Baltic Sea and the Balkans will shrink by more than a quarter by 2050. Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang told central bankers from the region in July that their countries must start importing workers to help address the issue. It’s already happening.

In Hungary, the EU’s fastest-growing economy, there were 49,500 work permits held by non-EU citizens in 2018, more than double the previous year’s figure. In 2016, there were about 7,300. While Ukrainians held more than half of them, Vietnamese, Indians and Mongolians are now among the groups growing quickest.

Romania boosted the number of permits for non-EU workers by 50% this year, with Sri Lankans and Indians joining Chinese and Turkish employees at restaurants and construction sites. In Poland, crews of Mongolian women paint newly built Warsaw apartment buildings.

In Belgrade, ethnic Albanians are working alongside locals to turn the Serbian government’s vision for a swanky new waterfront complex into reality. On a recent visit, President Aleksandar Vucic expressed amazement at how economic need was trumping a history of ethnic tensions.

From Europe’s Anti-Immigrant Leaders Have a Secret Hungary, Poland, and Serbia are among countries quietly importing workers to cope with a labor crisis, September 24, 2019.

EB-5 program to be drastically revised

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

The Trump administration is revamping the Green Card program for wealthy foreign investors that benefited developers such as Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A new final rule, effective Nov. 21 will nearly double the minimum amount of cash required to secure an EB-5 investor visa from $500,000 to $900,000 for projects in needy areas. It will also revise the standards for what is considered a blighted or high-unemployment neighborhood, to prevent developers from “gerrymandering” their own boundaries to attract investments for projects located in affluent communities.

The standard investment threshold for projects in non-needy areas will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million. The amount will automatically adjust for inflation every five years. From here.

The EB-5 program was created in 1990 to encourage investment in economically distressed areas. Foreigners only really started using it in 2008, when turmoil in American capital markets caused real estate developers to scramble for other ways to raise money. It now generates more than $5 billion a year, in exchange for nearly 10,000 green cards — a number that is capped by statute. Chinese applicants take up almost all of the 10,000 spots. From here.

 

Ukraine’s remittance economy

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Ukraine is Europe’s biggest recipient of remittances in proportion to the size of its economy. More than 11 per cent of Ukraine’s gross domestic product comes from remittances and its 5m-strong workforce abroad last year sent home a record $14.4bn through wire transfers and cash carried across the border.

Between 1m and 2m Ukrainians work in Poland, drawn by a combination of linguistic ties, geographical convenience, higher wages and better economic prospects. Salaries are three times higher than back home, and gaps left by young Poles heading to western Europe have caused labour shortages.

The lion’s share of these workers are from Ukraine’s western regions around Lviv, the 1m-strong provincial capital an hour’s drive from Poland where there is a two-decade-long tradition of working both seasonal and long-term jobs across the border, from construction to vegetable picking.

A widespread distrust of local banks means that workers abroad are pouring their cash into other assets, particularly real estate. As a result high-rise apartment complexes are sprouting up around Lviv and property developers say migrant labourers are some of their biggest customers.

From the Financial Times