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-   -   Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to plummet (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=639855)

Chen019 01-26-2012 06:45 PM

Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to plummet
 
This shows just how easy it could be to partially reduce US unemployment. :)

Quote:

Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to drop amid state-wide enforcement of a new immigration law, despite Democratic efforts to block and stigmatize the popular reform.

December’s unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, down from 8.7 percent in November and 9.8 percent in September.

“In the last three months alone, we’ve seen an unprecedented drop of 1.7 percentage points,” noted Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley in a Jan. 20 statement.

“Our rate is once again below the national average, and over 41,000 more Alabamians are employed now than at the beginning of the year… but we still have work to do,” said Bentley.

The drop began after a bipartisan 2011 law toughened the state’s immigration enforcement policies.

Richard Parker 01-26-2012 07:01 PM

Unsurprisingly, this argument lacks any intellectual rigor.

First, although the October-December change in rate was statistically significant, the October-December change in number of employed people was not. (Cite.) So what exactly is your causal theory?

Second, lots of states experienced similar drops in unemployment rate over the same period. Michigan dropped by 1.3%. South Carolina and Utah dropped a full point. Puerto Rico dropped 1.4%. Did Michigan also pass harsh anti-immigrant laws?

If you want to present a cogent argument, I suggest the following: tell us in what sector(s) illegal immigrants were principally employed, and then tell us whether those sectors change in employment rates different with statistical significance from sectors which had fewer illegal immigrants, and with statistical significance from the same sectors in other states. At least then you'd have an argument and not this post hoc parlor game.

GIGObuster 01-26-2012 07:05 PM

New Mexico's unemployment rate is 6.6 and immigrants (also the illegal ones) live relatively openly, with little interference, so I will let others decide who is more effective regarding this.

Steve MB 01-26-2012 07:10 PM

Your evidence is a set of unemployment-rate statistics for a period ending in December with no mention of the rate being seasonally adjusted??

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! :p:p:rolleyes::p:D:p

Next Trick: Use the average temperatures for this period to prove that Global Warming is just a bunch of pointy-headed liberal hooey.....

Richard Parker 01-26-2012 07:11 PM

It is seasonally adjusted. But it is also preliminary.

Marley23 01-26-2012 07:28 PM

Modding
 
Moved to Great Debates from Elections.

monstro 01-26-2012 07:33 PM

Are the new jobs those that would have been taken by illegal aliens? I skimmed through the link rather quickly, so maybe I missed this.

Without knowing the nature of the jobs, it is hard to say what's happening. Maybe the unemployment rate would be dipping even faster if the law hadn't been enacted.

tomndebb 01-26-2012 07:50 PM

I love it when a post hoc, ergo propter hoc comes together.

Ravenman 01-26-2012 09:42 PM

Maybe the drop in Alabama's unemployment rate is... Obama's fault! (cue ominous organ music)

aforehand 01-26-2012 10:27 PM

I can tell you locally
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Parker (Post 14709875)
Unsurprisingly, this argument lacks any intellectual rigor.

First, although the October-December change in rate was statistically significant, the October-December change in number of employed people was not. (Cite.) So what exactly is your causal theory?

Second, lots of states experienced similar drops in unemployment rate over the same period. Michigan dropped by 1.3%. South Carolina and Utah dropped a full point. Puerto Rico dropped 1.4%. Did Michigan also pass harsh anti-immigrant laws?

If you want to present a cogent argument, I suggest the following: tell us in what sector(s) illegal immigrants were principally employed, and then tell us whether those sectors change in employment rates different with statistical significance from sectors which had fewer illegal immigrants, and with statistical significance from the same sectors in other states. At least then you'd have an argument and not this post hoc parlor game.

I can't say whether or not state wide this is the case, but I can tell you that in Leeds Alabama, where I live there were ONLY hispanics employeed at the local McDonalds...NOW there are maybe a couple...AND they have a sign on the door that states that they use E-verify. Like I said, I can't tell you state wide what jobs illegal immigramts were principally employeed, I can't tell you whether or not several months ago every employee at McDonalds was illegal. I CAN tell you that when I go there now, there is a sign on the door stating McDonalds uses E-verify and it wasn't there before. I can also tell you that I no longer hear any hispanic accents when taking my order.

aforehand 01-26-2012 10:32 PM

NOT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by monstro (Post 14709970)
Are the new jobs those that would have been taken by illegal aliens? I skimmed through the link rather quickly, so maybe I missed this.

Without knowing the nature of the jobs, it is hard to say what's happening. Maybe the unemployment rate would be dipping even faster if the law hadn't been enacted.

I seriously doubt it. I say this only because of the fast food places I've seen before the law was passed and after the law was passed. Most of the local food places had mostly or only hispanic employees...now they are black and white with a few hispanics (even the Mexican restaurants). Also my friends maid left after the law was passed (even though it isn't illegal to hire an undocumented worker for domestic help)

Really Not All That Bright 01-27-2012 09:42 AM

There's a sign? Why didn't you say so in the first place? That clears up everything.

FoieGrasIsEvil 01-27-2012 10:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 14711684)
There's a sign? Why didn't you say so in the first place? That clears up everything.

They're everywhere....blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind...

Czarcasm 01-27-2012 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil (Post 14711823)
They're everywhere....blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind...

...do this...don't do that...

Simplicio 01-27-2012 10:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Parker (Post 14709875)
Second, lots of states experienced similar drops in unemployment rate over the same period. Michigan dropped by 1.3%. South Carolina and Utah dropped a full point. Puerto Rico dropped 1.4%. Did Michigan also pass harsh anti-immigrant laws?

But both Alabama and Michigan have large auto-industry sectors. I suspect thats the reason for better then average drops in unemployment for both states, as the autoindustry has been rebounding.

Chessic Sense 01-27-2012 10:49 AM

If you remove people from a place, there will a higher job:worker ratio. This holds whether you're arresting them, deporting them, or shooting them in the head. So I don't really see why this hypothesis seems so implausible.

Really Not All That Bright 01-27-2012 10:51 AM

How many jobs will there be if you remove everyone? Right. That's why we don't apply third grade logic to immigration policy.

Simplicio 01-27-2012 10:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chessic Sense (Post 14711925)
If you remove people from a place, there will a higher job:worker ratio. This holds whether you're arresting them, deporting them, or shooting them in the head.

Not necessarily true. Fewer people means fewer consumers, which means fewer jobs. Also most immigrant workers were hired because they were cheap. So to some extent when they leave, the job they held disappears rather then being given to a presumably more expensive US citizen.

Which doesn't mean its impossible that tougher anti-immigrant laws have caused the unemployment rate to drop, but its not obviously so. And trying to point at a dropping unemployment rate as evidence at a time when unemployment rate is dropping across the country is silly.

Great Antibob 01-27-2012 11:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chessic Sense (Post 14711925)
So I don't really see why this hypothesis seems so implausible.

Maybe the hypothesis is plausible. But the evidence is weak. Very weak.

1) Because the people are still there. They haven't been removed. Employers may be checking immigration status more closely, though.

2) Because a lot of states saw similar drops in unemployment without similar laws.

3) The analysis was performed from September to December, i.e. the Holiday Shopping Season.

I would want to see an October to October comparison (to get rid of seasonal variations), the number of total jobs available versus positions filled (rather than just the unemployment rate), and a comparison of these types of numbers between Alabama and other states.

That's the sort of evidence I would want BEFORE coming to the conclusion that this law is primarily responsible for any jobs gains.

As posted above and without such evidence, the OP clearly demonstrates post hoc reasoning.

BobLibDem 01-27-2012 11:28 AM

I credit the Regis factor. The economy began to turn around about the same time Regis left his show. I can only conclude that the people who used to sit around watching Regis had to find something else to do, so they found work.

Finagle 01-27-2012 11:29 AM

So even if the hypothesis is correct, so what?

a. You haven't created any new jobs.

b. The jobs that people are getting are pretty crummy (which is why low-paying undocumented immigrants were doing them).

c. You have less business at these jobs (because some fraction of your customer base just got told to GTFO).

d. All the unemployed immigrants now went somewhere else, so they're someone else's problem in a neighboring state. Or they're hanging around committing crimes in desperation. Or they're making even less money working under even worse conditions for someone who is willing to flout the law if it's profitable enough.

TruCelt 01-27-2012 12:05 PM

This also coincides with the BRAC movement of the army materiel command to Huntsville. A great many of my Federal Contractor friends are opening offices down there - and having trouble getting their employees to move. The riff'ed NASA folks are an excellent match for these openings. . .

Really Not All That Bright 01-27-2012 12:21 PM

One would think that if the unemployment rate is so closely tied to illegal immigration, movement of the former should closely follow movement of the latter for the country as a whole. Shouldn't be too hard to demonstrate such a trend, and yet FAIR hasn't tried as far as I can tell (or at least hasn't published the results of such a study).

Ravenman 02-01-2012 03:31 PM

Here's a story: Alabama's economy has lost out on $10.8 billion due to the immigration law, including almost $350 million in tax revenues at the state and local level.

Link.

Omg a Black Conservative 02-01-2012 03:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ravenman (Post 14729956)
Here's a story: Alabama's economy has lost out on $10.8 billion due to the immigration law, including almost $350 million in tax revenues at the state and local level.

Link.

So, if I'm reading that right, Alabama's economy has lost out on $10.8B because of illegals losing their jobs? So what's preventing those jobs from being filled by legal immigrants/citizens of the U.S.?

(And how do you calculate income tax paid by illegal immigrants? :confused:)

Ravenman 02-01-2012 03:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Omg a Black Conservative (Post 14730014)
(And how do you calculate income tax paid by illegal immigrants? :confused:)

You don't think illegals are tax evaders, do you? They aren't Americans.

ETA: and as far as replacing the work done by illegal immigrants, Stephen Colbert had some insights on how it may be difficult to find Americans to do all those jobs:

Link.
Quote:

Now, I’ll admit – I started my workday with preconceived notions of migrant labor. But after working with these men and women, picking beans, packing corn, for hours on end, side by side in the unforgiving sun, I have to say – and I do mean this sincerely – please don’t make me do this again. It is really, really hard. For one thing, when you’re picking beans, you have to spend all day bending over. It turns out, and I did not know this, but most soil is at ground level. If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we make the earth waist high? Come on! Where is the funding?

Johnny L.A. 02-01-2012 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Omg a Black Conservative (Post 14730014)
So, if I'm reading that right, Alabama's economy has lost out on $10.8B because of illegals losing their jobs? So what's preventing those jobs from being filled by legal immigrants/citizens of the U.S.?

According to complaints by farmers I heard on an NPR story a while ago, the legal residents found farm work to be too hard, most quitting after a day or less. They also work more slowly, costing the farmers money in lost produce.

ShibbOleth 02-01-2012 10:15 PM

Maybe there are a lot of new jobs hunting for illegal immigrants?

elucidator 02-01-2012 10:19 PM

Thing about "stoop labor" is not the labor, its the stoop. The actual labor isn't so hard, its the physical position you must maintain to perform the labor. As an interrogation technique, it would be illegal under international law.

One need not be physically strong, women and children can do the work pretty near as well as a full grown man. An ability to endure suffering is just about the only requirement, outside of absorbing some simple instructions.

Of course, motivation is crucial to the stoop labor employee. And if there is one thing the undocumented worker has in abundance, it is motivation. About the only thing he has in abundance. And pain, of course, but that's harder to sell, everybody has some and nobody wants more.

Johnny L.A. 02-01-2012 10:20 PM

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/08/141183...mented-workers
Quote:

Some economists theorize that without all those undocumented immigrants, the supply of labor will dry up and businesses will have to pay more to attract new, legal workers. Tomatoes end up costing more, but Alabama's 10 percent employment rate goes down.

But the theory isn't working so far at Boatwright's farm.

"Since this law went in to effect, I've had a total 11 people that were Americans come and ask for work," Boatwright says. "A total of one of those actually came back the next day."

That one worker picked about four boxes of tomatoes before leaving the field and quitting, Boatwright says. He says picking crops in the fields is a specialized skill that Americans just aren't accustomed to doing.

Ibn Warraq 02-02-2012 01:29 AM

It sounds like a lot Alabama farmers don't want to pay the market price for their employees.

sisu 02-02-2012 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Simplicio (Post 14711854)
But both Alabama and Michigan have large auto-industry sectors. I suspect thats the reason for better then average drops in unemployment for both states, as the autoindustry has been rebounding.

Yep this is what I have read and heard I don't have the cite but if Freakonmics thinks it might be part of the answer, then I'm in!

And really are we saying that it is a good thing that there are more McDonald's jobs?

gatorslap 02-04-2012 12:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sisu (Post 14735009)
And really are we saying that it is a good thing that there are more McDonald's jobs?

No, but apparently it is a good thing that there aren't so many hispanics working there. :rolleyes:

Obsidian 02-04-2012 03:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibn Warraq (Post 14731746)
It sounds like a lot Alabama farmers don't want to pay the market price for their employees.

I imagine that would be because American shoppers don't want to pay market price for their produce.

Kobal2 02-04-2012 07:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. (Post 14731372)

Wait, what ? Picking tomatoes is a specialized skill now ? It's lifting stuff off a waist-high vine, it doesn't really get any more unskilled than this !

Der Trihs 02-04-2012 07:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kobal2 (Post 14739335)
Wait, what ? Picking tomatoes is a specialized skill now ? It's lifting stuff off a waist-high vine, it doesn't really get any more unskilled than this !

Being willing to do so for extremely low pay with minimal rest while being exposed to dangerous levels of pesticide is a specialized "skill". Or in other words:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibn Warraq (Post 14731746)
It sounds like a lot Alabama farmers don't want to pay the market price for their employees.

I'd add "or treat them like human beings" to that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Omg a Black Conservative (Post 14730014)
So, if I'm reading that right, Alabama's economy has lost out on $10.8B because of illegals losing their jobs? So what's preventing those jobs from being filled by legal immigrants/citizens of the U.S.?

You are assuming that the people leaving are doing so because they are all illegal aliens. They aren't. These laws are an excuse to persecute people for being poor and brown, not because they are illegal anything. Plenty of legal citizens flee laws like this, and the persecution that goes along with them.

BrainGlutton 02-04-2012 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Finagle (Post 14712052)
So even if the hypothesis is correct, so what?

a. You haven't created any new jobs.

b. The jobs that people are getting are pretty crummy (which is why low-paying undocumented immigrants were doing them).

c. You have less business at these jobs (because some fraction of your customer base just got told to GTFO).

d. All the unemployed immigrants now went somewhere else, so they're someone else's problem in a neighboring state. Or they're hanging around committing crimes in desperation. Or they're making even less money working under even worse conditions for someone who is willing to flout the law if it's profitable enough.

This.

BrainGlutton 02-04-2012 09:15 AM

And, of course, none of this fuss would exist if the immigration-pressure were coming from Canada instead of Mexico.

PrettyVacant 02-04-2012 09:18 AM

Why, in the first place, would MacDonalds employ non-US workers over US nationals?

Really Not All That Bright 02-04-2012 11:07 AM

It wouldn't. There is no economic benefit to hiring undocumented workers if you pay them the same as everyone else. I suppose there is some number of undocumented workers who are proficient enough in English to be hired over locals, and have borrowed Social Security numbers, but I can't imagine there are many.

Some years ago there was a class action suit filed claiming that Wal-Mart was hiring illegal immigrants at below minimum wage to work custodial jobs. Back then, right-wingers weren't pissed about them being hired, just that they were demanding equal pay.

Incubus 02-04-2012 01:18 PM

What a lot of people dont seem to understand is that many of the jobs immigrants are doing are jobs many other americans are not. Simiarly, immigrants are often willing to live in living conditions many other americans wouldn't dream of- cramming themselves into a 10x10 room with a dozen other laborers, for example.

I don't think Alabama's unemployment drop has anything to do with the change in immigration law, because its the minority of sought-after jobs that citezens are competing with illegal immigrants. The immigrants go, that doesn't free up a ton of jobs necessarily, because the jobs they were doing were stuff other people won't do. Those businesses will close shop/relocate elsewhere if their business model depended on immigrant labor.

Also, many immigrants start their own little businesses. These businesses often employ other immigrants (communities form with the goal of helping each other out). If laws regarding immigrants get strict, the whole business may relocate elsewhere- its not like some guy from Guatemala owning a taco stand is going to suddenly hire Billy Bob American in lieu of any of his own peers being around.

saoirse 02-04-2012 06:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kobal2 (Post 14739335)
Wait, what ? Picking tomatoes is a specialized skill now ? It's lifting stuff off a waist-high vine, it doesn't really get any more unskilled than this !

That's a common misconception. Picking tomatoes is not just manual labor. Do you know anyone who grows tomatoes? Have you ever seen them look at a tomato to see if it's ready to be picked? Even the hardest-working Americans need two or even three seconds to figure that out. Agricultural laborers are able to make that determination without wasting time, because they've grown up acquiring that skill.

robinson 02-04-2012 07:00 PM

Quote:

Alabama’s unemployment rate continues to plummet
Quote:

amid state-wide enforcement of a new immigration law
Just proves that the Prez's economic policies are working, doesn't it?

sisu 02-05-2012 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by saoirse (Post 14740419)
That's a common misconception. Picking tomatoes is not just manual labor. Do you know anyone who grows tomatoes? Have you ever seen them look at a tomato to see if it's ready to be picked? Even the hardest-working Americans need two or even three seconds to figure that out. Agricultural laborers are able to make that determination without wasting time, because they've grown up acquiring that skill.

Bulldust, it is not rocket science mate.

Ravenman 02-05-2012 06:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sisu (Post 14743207)
Bulldust, it is not rocket science mate.

And your knowledge of agriculture comes from...?

ETA: My own expertise is based on a single date a long time ago where a girl wanted to go pick strawberries. I still can't believe that we paid someone to work their fields.

sisu 02-06-2012 01:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ravenman (Post 14743214)
And your knowledge of agriculture comes from...?

ETA: My own expertise is based on a single date a long time ago where a girl wanted to go pick strawberries. I still can't believe that we paid someone to work their fields.

Growing up in a semi rural area, picking grapes and apples at summer time, hay bailing with my uncle etc etc.

it is tricky but with a few minutes of what to look for, no worries.

DSeid 02-07-2012 11:31 PM

Three quarters of that drop was people who quit looking. Not so impressive.

Meanwhile they are not getting hired by the farmers as crops rot in the fields for lack of labor willing or able to do the job ... and it is generally not good for business to detain visiting Mercedes and Honda executives.

Cheesesteak 02-08-2012 06:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibn Warraq (Post 14731746)
It sounds like a lot Alabama farmers don't want to pay the market price for their employees.

that's a good point, all they have to do is raise their prices to cover their extra labor cost. Then they get to go out of business, as their buyers decide to buy cheaper tomatoes from farms outside of Alabama.

Win-win, right?

Mijin 02-08-2012 08:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cheesesteak (Post 14751981)
that's a good point, all they have to do is raise their prices to cover their extra labor cost. Then they get to go out of business, as their buyers decide to buy cheaper tomatoes from farms outside of Alabama.

Well either the business is economic or it isn't.

If you can't turn a profit without making use of illegal workers, then you're in a similar situation to someone whose plantation was made unprofitable by slavery becoming illegal.

Cheesesteak 02-08-2012 08:59 AM

The problem is that Alabama is not an island unto itself. Her farmers have to compete with farmers in neighboring states and neighboring countries. Significantly increase their costs, while everyone else's costs stay the same just makes them uncompetitive. They are uncompetitive, they go out of business, and a significant industry in the state goes belly up.

Which is exactly what's happening. I'm not going to argue whether or not that's an acceptable result, but it's unfair to criticize the farmer for not wanting to pay enough for labor. Unless we think these farmers are letting their crop rot and their business crash and burn, rather than reduce their ample profits by paying a "market wage".

Farmers are going to pay whatever they can afford, whatever is going to ultimately net them a profit when they sell their crop. It certainly makes more sense than tilling your rotten crop back into the soil.


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