Unemployment High in South Carolina Yet Graham Works to Increase Immigration

Mar 21, 2013, 05:00 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

Senator Graham's "shortage of labor" assertion lacks credibility

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that contrary to Senator Lindsey Graham's recent statement regarding "a shortage of labor," there is in fact a huge pool of unemployed and under-employed workers in South Carolina and the nation. In fact, the employment situation in South Carolina is among the worst in the country. This is particularly the case for less-educated citizens (those with no more than a high school education), who are the most likely to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs.

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"There is a huge pool of potential workers in South Carolina, especially to fill jobs that require modest levels of education. If employers really are having trouble finding workers, then offering higher wages and better working conditions would seem to make a good deal of sense. This could make a real difference in the lives of Americans who generally earn the lowest wages and have the highest unemployment," commented the report's lead author Dr. Steven Camarota, Director of Research.

The report can be found at: http://cis.org/bleak-unemployment-picture-in-gang-of-eight-states

Among the report's findings:

  • The standard unemployment rate for less-educated U.S. citizens in South Carolina was 12.6% in 2012, ranking it the 10th worst state in country. The unemployed are those who have looked for a job in the last four weeks.
  • The broader measure of unemployment (referred to as U-6), which includes those who want to work, but have not looked recently, shows an unemployment rate of 22.1% for less-educated citizens in South Carolina — 8th worst in the country.
  • In 2012, 45.8% of less-educated citizens (ages 18 to 65) were not working in South Carolina. This includes the unemployed and those entirely out of the labor force.
  • The 45.8% figure in South Carolina is the second worst in the country and represents a massive deterioration in recent years. As recently as 2007, 36% of less-educated citizens (18 to 65) were not working.
  • There were a total of 550,000 less-educated citizens (18 to 65) in the state not working in 2012.
  • Looking at all U.S. citizens of every education level in South Carolina, there were 1 million citizens (18 to 65) not working in 2012.
  • Although Sen. Graham and other members of the Gang of Eight seem to believe there is a labor shortage, the employment data collected by the government does not support this conclusion.

Speaking at the Easley Rotary Club in February, Sen. Graham stated that he believes there is "a shortage of labor," and for this reason we should allow illegal immigrants to remain in their jobs and increase the number of foreign workers allowed into the country. (See http://easley.patch.com/articles/graham-immigration-reform-s-time-is-now.) Moreover, as part the Gang of Eight efforts, labor and business leaders are negotiating a new program to bring in more immigrant to fill low-skilled jobs. But government employment data shows that unemployment and non-work are extremely high in most of the country for U.S. citizens who have modest levels of education.


Data. The data for this analysis comes from the monthly public-use files of the Current Population Surveys (CPS) for 2000, 2007, and 2012. Each year represent 12 months of data averaged together. By averaging 12 months together and creating yearly estimates it is possible to create a statistically robust figure at the state level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics often uses the same approach for creating state estimates. All CPS respondents are asked their citizenship so it is a straightforward matter to estimate unemployment for American citizens (native-born and naturalized).

Defining Unemployment. The standard measure of unemployment, referred to as U-3, takes the number of people who report that they are not working and have looked for a job in the last four weeks and divides it by the number actually working plus those looking for work. The broader measure of unemployment, referred to as U-6, includes those who are involuntary part-time (i.e., would prefer a full-time job but can't find one), and others who indicate that they want and are available for jobs, and they have looked for work in the past 12 months. They are not part of U-3 unemployment because they have not looked for a job in the prior four weeks.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization. Since its founding in 1985, the Center has pursued a single mission – providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

CONTACT: Marguerite Telford
mrt@cis.org (202) 466-8185

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies