Why Hispanic workers have higher work fatality rates

According to federal statistics, “The number of fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers was sharply higher in 2004 after declining for the two previous years.” That came from a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. BLS researcher Scott Richardson wrote an article showing that the fatality rate for Hispanic construction workers was higher than for non-Hispanic workers, even after adjusting for age, education and work experience.
I have posted below a short article I wrote on this topic in April 2005 for Risk & Insurance Magazine. I cite ten factors behind this higher fatality rate. Some of these factors likely apply in other occupations. Richardson and David Lighthall of the Relational Culture Institute in Fresno helped me in writing this article.
10 Threads of Huerta’s Shroud

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Study of Hispanic North Carolina Poultry Workers

A September 2005 press release by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center reports that North Carolina poultry workers show a higher than reported rate of work injuries, suggesting a need for uniform enforcement of safety regulations. This study goes along with a study of Oakland garment workers and a study of Las Vegas hotel workers (to be profiled) in describing the working conditions of specific immigrant groups within a specific labor market. All of these studies suffer from a limited understanding of the dynamics of workers compensation. The lead author declined to discusss the methodology problems with this study. Yet it remains a good introduction to immigrant workers in the poultry industry.
The survey was conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in collaboration with Centro Latino of Caldwell County, Inc. The survey was based on a representative sample of Latino workers in six counties in western North Carolina: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin.
Poultry processing is the largest and fastest growing sector of the meat products industry, according to the authors. In 2002, North Carolina and four other states accounted for 70 percent of all broiler production in the United States. Many of the workers are immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, according to the authors.

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The “Real ID” program to catch illegal immigrants: Stalled? Dead?

This program, hatched by Congress last Spring to impose immigrant IDs through the states’ driving license systems, seems to be going nowhere, a reflection of the lack of serious thought put into the idea at the outset. I am presenting here a summary of the bill and excerpts of an information technology magazine article from 2005.
Homeland Security Watch has been monitoring progress and as of late January 2006 found the program to be in a near-complete mess, with wildly ranging estimates of costs and an array of opponents. Consider this: to make Real ID work, you need to get the Registry of Motor Vehicle Departments to not only get their individual IT systems up to snuff, but then to coordinate with a single national IT standard.
Now for a summary of the bill and an early analysis of the IT challenges….

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Sen. Specter Guest Worker bill to expand foreign worker programs for professionals

Per Schusterman’s Immigration Update, these are (1) Employment-Based (EB) Immigration — the “green card” permanent immigration program. A current cap of 140,000 would be raised to 290,000 per year. The other (2) is the H-1B non-immigration program. The cap is now 65,000. It would be to 115,000 annually. Thereafter, the cap would be controlled by a “market based escalator mechanism”. However: persons with advanced degrees in math, science, technology and engineering would be exempt from the cap.
EB in depth: See for a for in-depth treatment by Stephen Yale-Loehr and Michael J. Bayer. An excerpt:

The U.S. immigration system has five employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories that allow up to 140,000 people a year obtain permanent residence (also known as “green cards”) in the United States through their work or skills. These categories are set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which codifies most but not all U.S. immigration laws. This article summarizes the five employment-based categories.

The INA gives first preference to “priority workers,” including noncitizen workers of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives. Second preference goes to professionals with advanced degrees and workers with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. The third employment-based category includes professionals without advanced degrees, skilled workers, and unskilled workers. The fourth EB category provides visas for certain “special immigrants,” such as religious workers. Finally, the fifth EB category reserves a certain number of visas for immigrant investors seeking to enter the United States to start a commercial enterprise that will create or save at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.

The H1B program is overviewed here.

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The working immigrant and social mobility in America

Let us look at the analyses of job growth in the past ten years and projected into the 2010 and ponder how job trends are reinforcing barriers to upward mobility.
They show an hourglass shape: strong, in some instances spectacular growth of knowledge economy jobs, shrinkage of routine jobs (such as office workers) and steady growth of many manual jobs. I have noted the influx of relatively small numbers of highly educated foreigners into the American workforce, for instance physicians.
David Autor of MIT in examining these trends says the American workforce is being polarized. (I have noted Autor’s findings here.)
The more we delve into this trend, the more we see structural changes that inhibit upward migration of low income workers. That does not mean we are doomed to a good jobs/lousy jobs future. It does mean, however, that government policy must be harnessed to lessen these rigidities.
The polarization challenge is at its most acute within the huge undocumented workforce of America. Handcuffs, not a handshake or even a handout, are looming into the futures of these workers.
We are losing through off-shoring net about 300,000 routine office types of jobs a year. We are adding net about 300,000 undocumented workers a year. Today undocumented workers are about (per the Pew Hispanic Center, with some adjustments) about 7.5 million undocumented workers — illegal immigrants — a year. they make up a quarter of the workforce in some job, particular high risk, such as roofers. One half (!) of new immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented workers. (I have presented Pew data here and here.)
It is important to realize that these manual jobs are increasing, and will continue to increase. Would anyone disagree with the proposition that an undocumented worker enjoys significantly less upward mobility than does a legal American working alongside him or her, or a legal immigrant?

Immigration of medical doctors to the U.S.

Some 22% of MDs in practice in the United States in 2004 were non-Americans trained in foreign medical schools, according to an article published October, 2005 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The total number of doctors in practice was 836,000. Of these 183,000 were non-Americans trained abroad. Six countries supplied 49% of these 183,000 (in descending order): India, Philippines, Pakistan, Canada, China, and the foreign Soviet Union. In 2004 40,888 India trained doctors were in practice in the United States. That made up 5% of all practicing MDs and 22% of all non-American foreign trained doctors.
It is not known how many American trained doctors work abroad, however the number is likely insignificant. The total number of American trained doctors working in Canada, the UK, and Australia in 2004 equaled only 671 (while 13,571 non-American doctors trained in those countries were working in the U.S.)
Americans trained abroad and working in the U.S. in 2004 were 23,380, or 3% of the entire body of doctors in practice.
These summary ratios are also roughly the same for the practicing MD populations in Canada, UK, and Australia.
The brain drain from developing countries to the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia from some developing countries was quite high. For example, 41% of Jamaica trained doctors (excluding Americans) worked in one of these four developed countries. The brain drain percentages for other countries included Haiti (35%,), the Philippines (18%), and India (11%.)
Summarizing on India: about one out of every ten India trained doctors were practicing in one of these four developed countries, and in the U.S. they made up 5% of all doctors.
Fitzhugh Mullan MD of George Washington University authored the article.

Types of work done by illegal immigrants and other data from the Pew Hispanic Center

The Center released today a report which updates its findings from 2005. I have listed below some of the more interesting findings:
1. The total undocumented population now is 11.5 – 12 million. The population continues to grow at 500,000 per year. There are in total about 37 million immigrants in the United States.
2. The number of undocumented workers as of 3/05 was 7.2 million. (I extrapolate that to a March 2006 estimate of 7.6 million ) This is equal to about 5% of the American workforce.
3. Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes, which go into a Social Security suspense file when the Soc Sec # is unverifiable.
4. About 3 million of the 7.2 million workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.
5. One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans. Undocumented women participate much less than native women in the workforce (54% vs. 72%) This explains th image of a very large single male workforce as the tpyical undocumented immigrant.

More than 70% of Congress supports a guest worker program

According to The Washington Times, 3/4/06, “The National Journal Insiders Poll, a survey of members of Congress, found both parties are ready to accept a plan that would allow more foreigners to legally come to work in the United States. Support was 73% among Republicans and 77% among Democrats.”
In July the Insiders Poll found that immigration and border security topped the list of issues ‘most on the minds of your constituents these days’ for Republicans in Congress. In that poll, 17 of 37 Republicans put immigration tops, far above the No. 2 issue of the economy. For Democrats, though, immigration was at the top of the list for just two of the 35 members who responded.

Study: Fatal occupational injuries among Asian workers

There is a one in four chance that a victim of grocery store robbery-related murder will be Asian, and a foreign born Asian at that.
In her report on Asian worker fatalities in the October 2005 issue of the Monthly Labor Review, Jessica Sincavage notes that between 1999 and 2003, 775 workers of Asian descent suffered fatal work fatalities, which equals 3 percent of all work fataltites in the given time frame. More than half of Asian worker fatalities were the result of an assault or violent act, far higher than for all fatalities (10%).
Who are the Asians who die at work? Indians, 23%; Koreans, 18%; and Vietnamese, 14%, are the three largest nationalities.
she writes:

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Employer obligations in Sen. Specter’s guest worker bill

Thanks to Tony Herrera for giving us the URL of Sen. Specter’s bill, which as posted is unnamed and unnumbered. The meat of employer obligations is in Title IV, Section 403, “Employer obligations”, starting on page 204. Without having carefully compared the language with that of Sen. McCain’s bill, I surmise that the employer’s obligations and penalties in some respects seem either identical or similar. For instance 204 (b)(3) states that “All workers in this H2C category will be provided the working conditions and benefits that are normal to workers similarly employed in the area of intended employment.” The employer must provide workers comp insurance, regardless of what is normally done.
Sen. Sepecter’s bill does not have the foreign labor contractor provisions of Sen. McCain’s S.1033. Instead, the employer appears free to hire directly or through contractors, but bears per Title III all the legal liability of employer failures to comply. The bill expects to roll out the program throughout the entire economy starting with employers with workforces of at least 5,000. I cannot yet find a prohibition of independent contractor status, which is a remarkable feature of the McCain bill as I pointed out in an earlier posting.