Others Factors Favoring More U.S. Immigration

On May 17, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reported “the fertility rate in the United States fell to a record low for a second straight year, federal officials reported Thursday, extending a deep decline that began in 2008 with the Great Recession.” This latest rate “fell to 60.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down 3 percent from 2016. . . . It was the largest single-year decline since 2010, when families were still feeling the effects of a weak economy.”[1]

If such rates “are too low, a country can face challenges replacing its work force and supporting its older adults, like in Russia and Japan. In the [U.S.], declines in rates have not led to drops in the population, in part because they have been largely offset by immigration.”

An apparent cause is women “postponing marriage, becoming more educated and . . .more likely to be the primary breadwinners for their households.” Yet, Donna Strobino, a demographer at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says, “It’s hard to tell whether this is a dip that we periodically see in fertility or this is a long-term trend due to major social changes.”

“The most recent decline has been deepest for minorities. The fertility rate among Hispanic women dropped more than 27 percent between 2007 and 2016, the most recent year of data by race. The rate for whites has dropped about 4 percent, for blacks about 11 percent and for Asians about 5 percent.

The Wall Street Journal recognizes this problem. Its May 17 editorial states, “the immigration destructionists are detached from the reality of the American farm economy and a worker shortage that’s driving food production overseas.” Moreover, the U.S. “farm labor shortage is growing more serious as the overall U.S. jobless rate falls. The Labor Department says about half of the 1.2 million or so workers employed in agriculture are undocumented, and if they were deported the shortage would become a crisis.”[2]

A related Wall Street Journal article quotes “a study from former regional Fed economist Madeline Zavodny, now at the University of North Florida, suggesting that new talent doesn’t hurt our existing talent and may even help. She finds that ‘having more immigrants reduces the unemployment rate and raises the labor force participation rate of US natives within the same sex and education group.” These “results may be surprising, but they are consistent with research that finds immigration has little adverse effect on native-born workers’ wages and employment. The results do not deny, however, not all workers in America are doing well. The results simply point to the fact that immigrants are not to blame for deeper structural forces or circumstances that may have led to dim labor market prospects for some workers.”[3]

A similar report comes from Minnesota. “The strength of Minnesota’s manufacturing industry has obscured a potentially serious challenge ahead for the sector: finding enough workers.” A Minnesota industry group said a “looming worker shortages [is]  a top concern for manufacturers, as baby boomer retirements shrink the labor pool at the same time the sector continues to grow.” Nearly one-half of survey respondents ‘identified hiring and retention as their number one challenge.”  April data “provided more evidence that hiring has slowed sharply in the state this year amid an ultratight supply of workers. The [state] agency said the number of unemployed workers is at a 17-year low.” [4]


[1] Nat’l Ctr for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2017 (May 17, 2018); Tavernise, Fertility Rate Fell to a Record Low, for a Second Straight Year, N.Y. Times (May 17, 2018).

[2] Editorial, Exporting Jobs Instead of Foods, W.S.J. (May 17, 2018) See also U.S. Needs More Immigrants, dwkcommentaries.com (April 14, 2018).

[3] Freeman, Trump and America’s Immigrant Shortage, W.S.J.(May 17, 2018).

[4] DePass, Minnesota manufacturers’ profits soar, but a labor shortage looms, StarTribune (May 18, 2018); Ramstad, Minnesota’s employers, with fewer people to hire, are hiring fewer, StarTribune (May 18, 2018).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

8 thoughts on “Others Factors Favoring More U.S. Immigration”

  1. Wall Street Journal: U.S. Immigration Debate Disconnected from Economic Realities

    Another Wall Street Journal article emphasizes that “America’s economy—growing and thriving—has never needed immigrant labor more than it does now.” In the short term, the U.S. needs more low-skilled and highly skilled workers. Moreover, “The long-term demographic trends also suggest immigration can be more helpful than harmful.”

    Selb, An Immigration Debate Distinct from Economic Realities, W.S.J. (May 21, 2108), https://www.wsj.com/articles/an-immigration-debate-distinct-from-economic-realities-1526908154.

  2. More U.S. Guest Worker visas for 2018

    On May 25, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it will issue 15,000 additional guest worker H-2B visas. This is in addition to the 66,000 such visas set by Congress. Such visas are for foreigners who take seasonal jobs in seafood, tourism, landscaping, construction and others industries — but not farmworkers.

    The reason for this increase? Pleas by businesses hurt by tight labor market with unemployment at 3.9 percent. As the Wall Street Journal stated, “Owners of restaurants, hotels and other seasonal businesses are scrambling for the second year in a row, as limits on visas for temporary foreign workers and a tight U.S. labor market make it difficult to staff up for the summer rush.”


    Miroff, DHS to issue 15,000 more guest worker visas amid clamor over labor shortage, Wash. Post (May 25, 2018), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/dhs-to-issue-15000-more-guest-worker-visas-amid-clamor-over-labor-shortage/2018/05/25/04f8d602-6058-11e8-a4a4-c070ef53f315_story.html?utm_term=.99de6517a6e5

    Simon , Summer Is Here. Where Are Alll the Workers, W.S.J. (May 24, 2018) https://www.wsj.com/articles/summer-is-here-where-are-all-the-workers-1527163201

  3. Wall Street Journal Calls for Even More Guest Worker Visas

    According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, the recent 15,000 increase in guest worker visas (H2-B visas) by the Department of Homeland Security “won’t come close to meeting the demands across the country from resorts, fisheries, landscapers and restaurants, among many other industries.”

    The Journal points out that although a federal statute “caps the [annual] number [of such visas] at 66,000 divided between summer and winter. But amid the tight labor market, and a 3.9% jobless rate, Congress gave the Administration authority to issue as many as 69,000 more visas this summer to meet employer needs.” Thus, after the extra 15,000 already announced, there is legal authority to grant 54,000 more.


    Editorial, A Miserly 15,000 More Visas, W.S.J. (May 28, 2018), https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-miserly-15-000-more-visas-1527539890

  4. Small Town in Pennsylvania Bolstered by Immigrants

    Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a town of about 6,000 people that proudly proclaims itself as the mushroom capital of the world, is challenged by a declining, aging population and finding workers for its mushroom farmers and processors.

    Immigrants, especially from Mexico, have responded to this need for workers. According to an article in the New York Times, now “about half of Kennett Square’s residents are Hispanic, of whom an estimated 80 percent are Mexican, according to La Comunidad Hispana, which provides medical, educational and legal services for immigrants.” As a result, these immigrants “have contributed to the renewal of Kennett Square. Some Mexican immigrants have started their own mushroom farms. Some own hair salons. Others own Mexican grocery stores. There’s even a taco war, as locals debate who makes the best tacos: Are they downtown or in nearby Avondale? Hundreds of children are now high school graduates, and many went on to earn college degrees.”

    Loretta Perna, program coordinator of the Walk in Knowledge Program at Kennett High School, said that the “Mexicans changed the community for the better. They became part of not just the mushroom community but part of the overall community, bringing color, richness to an otherwise bland life.”

    The Times reporter points out, “Kennett Square isn’t an anomaly. Across the country, cities of all sizes” depend on immigrant labor, but the impact is felt strongest in small-town America. From the meatpacking plants of Lincoln, Neb., to the service industry in Lake Geneva, Wis..” I would add my Iowa home town of Perry. When I last visited, its main street had a Mexico-owned and operated tienda and a Salvadoran restaurant. There was nothing like that when I was graduated from its high school in the 1950’s.

    Now because of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and political rhetoric, these small towns are losing some of their immigrant families and laborers and fearing further losses.

    Wake up, politicians in Washington, D.C. The U.S. needs and should welcome immigrants!


    Corchado, The Mexican Revival of Small-Town America, N.Y. Times (June 2, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-mexican-revival-of-small-town-america.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront

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