Like it or not, 2016 might see outright war between companies and leading Republicans as well as Bernie Sanders. Here’s why: President Barack Obama is preparing a colossal new executive action that could print-up work permits for a huge number of foreign white-collar graduates every year, above and beyond the levels set by Congress.
Supply and demand laws tell us this move will hurt US workers because foreign students who take jobs will be on the pathway to citizenship which has intrinsic value. In other words, its a perk like healthcare or free sodas. As a result, foreign-born workers will take the same job for less money than a citizen.
While potentially all wages are at risk, its really the white collar tech jobs which have historically drawn a great deal of foreign-born workers.
Corporations will soon be forced to consider the lower-priced worker because if they don’t, their competition will.
Conservative Republican candidates and Bernie Sanders have been vociferous about foreign workers taking US jobs. Trump is running in-part on a creation of jobs platform, meaning Obama just gave him a huge gift.
Bernie Sanders too is focusing on jobs. This is why a virtually unknown senator has been able to go up against the Clinton machine and actually scare it. In an editorial in the Washington Post, Bernie wrote that he does not support “under the guise of immigrant reform, a process pushed by large corporations which results in more unemployment and lower wages for American workers.” While he understands that in agriculture and STEM, foreign labor is needed, he believes that with the way things are currently run “this is a massive effort to attract cheap labor, a great disservice to American workers.”
Many critics have argued Obama has divided this nation like no other president. Perhaps now, in his final year, he will get credit for bringing the left and right together. We will see how all of this plays out. It puts Sanders in a pickle because he has been very delicate with any attacks on fellow Democrats.
Hillary is a tougher one to figure out. She has to be very careful not to criticize Obama as she needs him to help her campaign. Yet, regardless of the low “official” unemployment numbers, 40% of voting age workers are unemployed. If this issue becomes a large part of the news cycle, she may need to pivot into semi-attack mode.
The reality is, while increased foreign workers will push wages down, they were responsible for founding Google, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo. In fact, more than 40% of the Fortune 500 firms were started by immigrants or children of immigrants, including seven of the 10 most valuable brands in the world, according to a study by The Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of governors and business leaders led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In addition, lower cost labor allows companies to keep jobs in the US. This is important because large companies can hire people anywhere they choose as they often have offices in places like India and China.
Finally and perhaps this is the best part… Smaller companies, without easy access to lower-cost labor will be able to better compete with larger US companies.
Competition is very good for the economy – especially when it already exists outside the US but now will increase within our borders.
What we know so far is 2016 looks like it will be an exciting one on the political front and how it relates to the world of tech and hiring.
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