On October 10, 2007 in an article entitled “Effort to Curb Illegal Worker’s Hiring Blocked” the Washington Post reported that overall, 7.2 million illegal immigrants account for at least 10 percent of low skilled U.S. workers and that 5 percent of the total U.S. workforce is unauthorized. The figures were cited from the Pew Hispanic Center.
Solving this problem of illegal immigrants is simple as Congress discussed recently with the minimum wage bill. They told us raising the minimum wage will reduce employment by raising operating costs, which forces business to economize on labor and layoff many. Economists continue to be unanimous in their forecast; a higher minimum wage will decrease the demand for labor.
Therefore, if we want to eliminate illegal foreign workers we will need to raise the minimum wage to eliminate their jobs. We can make a good estimate here because the Pew Institute named specific occupations where there are many illegal immigrants. They mentioned grounds maintenance workers. Well gee, over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics that is an official job with Standard Occupational Classification of 37-3011, Landscaping and Groundskeeping worker. The hard working folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report 924 thousand jobs at a median wage of $10.22 an hour. I am sure a new minimum wage of $12.50 an hour would eliminate thousands of those low paid landscaping and groundskeeping jobs and send thousands of those illegal immigrants back home from whence they came.
Or how about Construction Laborers? The Pew Institute mentioned them as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports over a million Construction Laborers, Standard Occupational Classification of 47-2061, in its May 2006 occupational employment survey with a median hourly wage of $12.66 an hour. As all economists will tell you eliminating jobs requires raising the minimum wage above its market level so if we are going to be able to send those illegal construction laborers home we will need to get that minimum wage above $12.66 an hour. Economic policy is so easy. We just need to apply the basic principles.