• Go West, then turn North

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    CRISPIN R. ARANDA

    CRISPIN R. ARANDA

    WITH Brexit and the continuing uncertainty in Europe, the on-again, off-again oil production cuts and threats of war and ethnic conflicts in the Middle East, the United States and Canada are the countries that offer better opportunities for Filipinos in terms of migration and employment opportunities.

    If President-elect Donald Trump sticks to his campaign promises, giving jobs to Americans first and erecting new barriers of exclusions to immigrants, the remaining rays of optimism lie in the immigrant or permanent residency visas in the United States, especially in the family-sponsored categories.

    With an inscrutable Republican as America’s 45th President and both houses of Congress dominated by Republicans, the business and investment sectors stand to gain the most, given the caliber and financial ties of the Trump cabinet. This, while maintaining the appearance of fighting for the working class, especially the white male electors in jobs-starved states.

    As a brilliant example of a “white knight in shining armor” saving about 800 jobs from Carrier’s furnace manufacturing operations in the US instead of moving them to Mexico, what the Trump electors fail to see or chose not to acknowledge, is the fact that the original number of jobs reported to be exported down South was 1,400.

    So 800 jobs saved, 600 gone.

    How about the company? What benefits or incentives will Carrier get for saving 57 percent of manufacturing jobs?

    MSNBC and CNN report that Carrier’s “deal with President-elect Donald Trump to keep a furnace plant from moving to Mexico also calls for a $16 million investment in the facility.”

    Will the money (in exchange for saved jobs) be spent to save jobs?

    Apparently not. The report says that “most of that money will be invested in automation, Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, confided. Automation will replace some of the jobs that were just saved.”

    In fact, MSNBC–-citing a source with knowledge of the state’s negotiation with Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies–said the deal would grant the parent company of Carrier Corp. $7 million in financial incentives over 10 years in exchange for a guarantee that the air and heating conditioning company would retain at least 1,000 jobs and invest $16 million into its Indiana operation.

    Carrier confirmed Thursday that “the state of Indiana has offered Carrier a $7 million package over multiple years, contingent upon factors, including employment, job retention and capital investment.”

    Hence, the billionaire’s club that President-elect Trump belongs to got more than the Rust Belt predominantly white male workers did.

    Did manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt disappear because of non-American workers in and out of the United States (outsourcing)?

    Mark Muro, senior fellow and policy director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, explains that based on “the stark trend lines of the production data, the massive 30-year decline of employment began in 1980. That trend led to the liquidation of more than a third of US manufacturing positions. Employment in the sector plunged from 18.9 million jobs to 12.2 million.

    Much of the dislocation was concentrated in midwestern and other Rust Belt states, where “entire communities were devastated by the loss of production work.”

    These states brought Trump to the White House.

    So where and what kind of jobs could legal immigrants look forward to in the US and Canada?

    How many legal immigrants are waiting to get their visas and compete for the available jobs?

    In October 2016, the US Department of State obtained from the National Visa Center (NVC) at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the total number of applicants on the waiting list in the various numerically limited immigrant categories.
    immigrant20161219The list includes applicants who are already in the US (eligible to apply for adjustment of status which includes those who have stayed under the immigration radar and by paying a penalty are allowed to stay and pursue permanent residency). This list does not include the immigrant visa applicants in the family-sponsored and employment-based categories. Essentially, those in the US (in legal or illegal status) compete for the limited per-country permanent residency places.

    The following figures are compiled from NVC data submitted to the department on November 1, 2016. The State Department report shows “the number of immigrant visa applicants on the waiting list in the various preferences and subcategories subject to numerical limit. All figures reflect persons registered under each respective numerical limitation, i.e., the totals represent not only principal applicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative status.”

    Industry employment
    What kind of jobs awaits immigrants and new permanent residents in the US?

    The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (under the Department of Labor) projections show that healthcare occupations and industries will have the fastest employment growth and are expected to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024. Extracts from the report show industry employment outlook.
    industry20161219Service-providing sectors are projected to capture 94.6 percent of all the jobs added between 2014 and 2024. Of this 9.3 million new service sector jobs, 3.8 million will be added to the healthcare and social assistance major sector.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that “healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be the two fastest growing occupational groups during the 2014 to 2024 projections decade. These groups are projected to contribute the most new jobs, with a combined increase of 2.3 million in employment, representing about 1 in 4 new jobs.”

    How about Canada?
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Immigration Minister John McCallum want to increase the number of legal immigrants Canada will accept next year to 300,000. From the private sector, the Advisory Council on Economic Growth October 20, 2016 seeks to “gradually ramp up permanent immigration to 450,000 over the next five years with focus on top business talent and international students in industries and roles where Canadian skill shortages exist.”

    Both Canada and the US continue to suffer from the graying dilemma: skilled workers and professionals are aging reducing the number of workers contributing to economic output. The same workers who have retired-–voluntary or otherwise– look to the social system for their benefits (pensions, disability, unemployment, etc).

    However, the social system depends on waged-based contributions by workers in the labor force. With the labor force reduced by retirement, the US and Canada need to think outside the box and beyond their borders.

    This is where the North American neighbors part ways.

    Canada intends to increase its migration numbers. The U.S. wants less. In fact, in a September 2016 speech in Phoenix, President-elect Trump said he wants to “keep immigration levels, within historical norms.” The surge in migrant numbers came in 1986 after the passage of the Illegal Immigration and Reform Control Act and the 1990 Immigration Act which increased the numbers in the Family and Employment categories resulting in the admission of legal immigrants by approximately one million a year.
    canada20161219Before that (historically) the annual quota was a tad above 400,000 which would be 50,000 less than what Canada’s advisory council urges the government to take.

    Where would Canada’s jobs be? Government projections show the following for a 10-year period.

    Unless the visa categories and requirements set for temporary work visas change, the jobs in the US and Canada would require a college or university degree, at the very least a 12-year academic completion that the K to 12 program of the Philippines has started.

    The US in particular requires applicants for jobs that require a bachelor’s degree to be sponsored by employers that are willing to pay thousands of dollars in fees for a lottery system that puts the overseas recruitment system in chaos. The 65,000 H-1B allocation opens up only in April 1 of each fiscal year. This annual cap gets filled in a few days. Employers whose sponsorships did not make it would have to try again the following year.

    Canada on the other hand has simplified its temporary foreign work recruitment program and is helping employers get the overseas talent and skills they need– faster.

    For Filipinos seeking greener pastures, the call is still “Go West young man, then go up further North.”

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