Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lack of immigration fix leaves crops rotting in California fields

Yeah., I know it's hard for farmers to compete with government handouts.
Except for illegal immigrants, no group has more at stake in the national fight over immigration reform than California farmers.

“It doesn't pay to plant a product if you can't harvest it,” noted Mark Teixeira of Santa Maria, who said he had to let 22 acres of vegetables rot last year because he couldn't find enough field hands to gather the crop. “That hurts.”

As security has tightened along the California-Mexican border, the flow of illegal immigrant labor into the nation's most productive agriculture state has slowed significantly, farm interests say.

“It's very difficult to find crews compared to three or four years ago,” said Greg Wegis, a fifth-generation Kern County farmer who grows cherries, almonds, pistachios and tomatoes, among other crops.
I talked about this before.  So this is another take on the issue.  In a state whose unemployment rate is well above the national average, don't you find this strange that the farmers aren't deluged with legal applicants?  You hear crazy stories about companies with four or five openings and they receive thousands of applications.

The official number is 9.8% with 1.8 million persons unemployed. But we know these numbers don't include all the people that have dropped out of the search and who have just quit looking for a job.

So who would be able to work these jobs?  Teenagers and young adults.  These are the demographics who are entering or have entered their prime physical condition.  So, what does the labor pool look like for CA?

I found this article that shows CA has a tremendous labor pool of unemployed teens and young adults:
Eighteen percent of California’s teens, ages 16 to 19, and 56 percent of young adults ages 20 to 24 were employed in 2011, according to the report. Compared to other states, California’s teen employment rate was the lowest. In terms of young adults, California ranked fifth from the bottom in front of West Virginia, South Carolina, New York and Mississippi, according to the report.

“All young people need opportunities to gain work experience and build the skills that are essential to being successful as an adult,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the foundation, said in the press release. “Ensuring youth are prepared for the high-skilled jobs available in today’s economy must be a national priority, for the sake of their future roles as citizens and parents, the future of our workforce and the strength of our nation as a whole.”

Overall, the study found 6.5 million people, ages 16 to 24, who are neither in school nor working. In California, more than 850,000 youth fit into that category. Such numbers raise concerns since students without early work experience are likely to experience unemployment later, according to the report.

“This report illustrates the need to provide teens and young adults clearer direction to college and careers, and makes the case for stronger connections between the experience they gain in and out of the classroom,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The fallacy in this article is the conclusion that these kids all need to get started on their careers.  What they really need is a JOB.

But, from previous articles we know why these demographics aren't getting jobs.  Government handouts are too easy to obtain and decreases the available labor pool.  In fact, CA is the worst:

California is the nation’s welfare queen: The state accounts for one-third of America’s welfare recipients, though it only contains one-eighth of the population, and there’s no good reason for it.


The main reason that California is so dependent on welfare is its uniquely lax enforcement of the provisions of the 1996 welfare reforms. As part of the creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the federal government put in place a set of regulations on welfare payments to help or encourage recipients to return to work, such as the five-year lifetime limit on benefits.

California, however, is one of nine states that don’t unconditionally enforce this supposedly nationwide provision. Even when adults do exhaust their welfare payments in California, under the Safety Net Program, the minors in their families continue to receive checks. Only three other states have similar policies. Unsurprisingly, three-fourths of California’s welfare recipients are 18 years old and younger.
So there you have it.  I wouldn't say this is the main cause of the labor shortage, but I can guarantee you this doesn't help.

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