The NYT had an article featuring employers complaining that they couldn't get low-cost immigrant labor. The piece focuses on the H-2B visa program which allows a limited number of foreign workers to come into the United States temporarily to work at low paying jobs such as restaurant work and housekeeping.
In particular, the article highlights the concerns of the two owners of landscaping businesses in the Denver area, Rhonda Fox, who owns a family business and Phil Steinhauer, who owns a larger business. Both complain that the limited number of foreign workers available under the visa program is hurting their business. They complain that, because of Denver's low unemployment rate and highly educated workforce, they are unable to get workers at the $15 an hour pay rate they offer.
The piece explains:
"Landscape work is harsh. Digging in the dirt and heaving equipment in blistering heat produces aching backs and raw hands. Low-skilled workers can earn a similar wage making a sandwich or working in an air-conditioned warehouse.
"'We put a $5,000 ad in The Denver Post, and we didn’t have one applicant,' Ms. Fox said. Paying a wage high enough to attract local workers would put her out of business, she said, because her customers would balk at the resulting price increases.
"Like Ms. Fox and other landscapers, Mr. Steinhauer signed planting contracts with customers last year based on the assumption that his crews would earn roughly $15 an hour. 'These are unskilled positions,' he said. 'Would you pay $50 to plant a bush in your garden?'"
Actually, some people would pay $50 to plant a bush in their garden, just as some people pay for chauffeurs, cooks, and nannies. The number of people who would hire such personal servants would obviously be much greater if we created a large supply of cheap foreign labor, but that would mean that the workers who currently hold these positions would earn much less money.
The NYT is apparently much more sympathetic to the relatively affluent employers who depend on cheap labor than the workers who would get less pay as a result of the competition. Unfortunately, its concern does not extend to those of us who have to go to doctors and dentists who must pay much higher prices for their services, because the government rigidly restricts the competition for these very highly paid workers.