January 17, 2007

TOO WEALTHY TO WORK HARD:

Dirty Work: What are the jobs Americans won't do? (Daniel Gross, Jan. 12, 2007, Slate)

What are these jobs that Americans will not do? Do they exist? Or are they a figment of the business community's imagination? It turns out that their claims are largely true--there are plenty of jobs Americans avoid. Let's take a tour of them. Americans shun pretty much any unskilled labor that requires them to get their hands dirty: landscaping, entry-level construction, picking fruits and vegetables (Reuters reports that "up to 70 percent of U.S. farm workers are estimated to be undocumented, totaling about 500,000 people"), cleaning hotel rooms, busing tables, and prep cooking in urban restaurants.

But the refusal to do jobs is moving up the value chain. American workers appear to be less interested in some kinds of factory jobs. The Washington Post, for example, recently reported that Georgia's carpet factories are increasingly dominated by Mexican immigrant workers.

Americans, it seems, are also less willing to take stressful jobs that require lots of training and long hours, and that require them to work in unpleasant environments. For example, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing is warning of a nursing shortage. This survey from the American Hospital Association says there are 118,000 nursing vacancies in the United States. Meanwhile, a 2003 report by the Council on Graduate Medical Education suggested there could be a shortage of anywhere from 65,000 to 150,000 doctors in 2020. (Given the time it takes to educate and train a physician, it's not too soon to worry.)

Spending your days tethered to a computer is also work that many Americans avoid. The Information Technology Association of America notes that 77 percent of companies it polled said there was a shortage of qualified IT talent in the United States. The solution: Import more geeks. The ITAA (and pretty much every technology company) supports boosting the number of H-1B visas above the current limit of 65,000 per fiscal year.

The more one looks, the more shortages of willing workers appear. Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe last month reported that the Pentagon is "considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks--including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to U.S. citizenship if they volunteer." Today, about 2 percent of the soldiers protecting America--about 30,000--aren't technically Americans. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a dire shortage of professors of accounting, finance, and management that may cause some schools to curtail course offerings. "AACSB International, the accrediting organization for business schools, estimates a shortage of 1,000 Ph.D.s in the U.S. this year that will grow to 2,400 by 2012." (Apparently, American citizens with Ph.D.s in accounting, finance, and management can get high-paying, satisfying jobs in the private sector. Who knew?)


On the bright side, the more jobs we won't do the more new Americans we get to import.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2007 8:11 AM
Comments

So basically, the article is saying that our gold plated education system is producing a large class of people who are qualified to;

a) complain, protest, and organize while

b) working retail (Starbucks, Target, etc.)

___

I keep on telling my rabidly anti-immigration audience that if they think immigration is bigger problem than our corrupt and anti-American education system, they just don't get it.

Posted by: Bruno at January 17, 2007 8:49 AM

The most difficult part of my teaching job is getting parents to discipline their children when they do something they shouldn't. Many parents immediately take the students side and try to defend their actions (or inaction as the case may be).

Posted by: Bartman at January 17, 2007 10:51 AM

As always, the unspoken caveat for 'jobs americans are willing to do' is 'at the wages offered'. I've always found that being made to do a difficult job is inverse to the pay scale.

Posted by: ed in texas at January 17, 2007 12:20 PM

Ed has it. Pay enough and the workers will show up. It is only that all the economic sinners want to go on exploiting peons instead of paying what the market would require for goods and services lawfully obtained.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 17, 2007 12:54 PM

Pay enough for natives to do the job and there is none.

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 1:40 PM

No, it says that most jobs natives actually take involve no work, so there's no reason to take one that does. They're what immigrants are for.

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 1:49 PM

Oj: Yes, and that is cynical exploitation, differing from antebellum slavery in degree only.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 17, 2007 4:30 PM

"Pay enough and the workers will show up." For the high tech jobs, natives are not prepared. They choose easier majors in college, or majors that appeal to their fancies of the day. By the time they graduated, they are not qualified for the high paying jobs available in the market. Here is where the immigrant PhDs come in. Thus it is not true that "Pay enough and the workers will show up."

"Yes, and that is cynical exploitation, differing from antebellum slavery in degree only." This is a stupid comment that cheapens the sufferings of the slaves. Slaves didn't get paid, they could not choose what they wanted or not wanted to do. Immigrant workers do, they have the freedom of doing or not doing the "menial" jobs. They can even go home to enjoy their earnings. Illegal immigrant construction workers get more than the minimum wage. Illegal landscapers make $15 per hr in Chicago suburbs. Native "landscape artists" demand upward of a $1000 to design your landscape. They charge a base price plus a % of the cost of your tree for planting the tree, i.e. if you are rich enough to buy an expensive tree, they want a cut too.

Posted by: at January 17, 2007 5:56 PM

How is it exploitation to make poor people affluent?

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 5:59 PM

"Pay enough and the workers will show up." For the high tech jobs, natives are not prepared. They choose easier majors in college, or majors that appeal to their fancies of the day. By the time they graduated, they are not qualified for the high paying jobs available in the market. Here is where the immigrant PhDs come in. Thus it is not true that "Pay enough and the workers will show up."

"Yes, and that is cynical exploitation, differing from antebellum slavery in degree only." This is a stupid comment that cheapens the sufferings of the slaves. Slaves didn't get paid, they could not choose what they wanted or not wanted to do. Immigrant workers do, they have the freedom of doing or not doing the "menial" jobs. They can even go home to enjoy their earnings. Illegal immigrant construction workers get more than the minimum wage. Illegal landscapers make $15 per hr in Chicago suburbs. Native "landscape artists" demand upward of a $1000 to design your landscape. They charge a base price plus a % of the cost of your tree for planting the tree, i.e. if you are rich enough to buy an expensive tree, they want a cut too. Without the illegals, the homeowners either do the tree planting themselves, or not plant them at all. Thus some jobs do not exist without illegals.

Posted by: at January 17, 2007 6:02 PM

If Africans had been offered the opportunity that Mexicans are they'd have swum the Middle Passage.

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 9:54 PM

Let the illegals become legal, have them work in fair competition with domestic labor, and we shall see how long they continue to want to do those jobs which no one else seems to want to do.

This is why the entire matter remains a gigantic sham. Neither the providers nor the consumers of illegal labor wish the system changed.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2007 12:19 AM

None of you people stayed home just because we let you be citizens.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2007 7:14 AM
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