In the wake the House of Representatives voting for the bloated farm bill, Ross Douthat argued that, absent a view of the common good, Republicans end up acting primarily on the short-term interests of Republican politicians and the short-term demands of the part’s client groups. Enter South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy. Gowdy argues that the House of Representatives needs to have some kind of immigration proposal because of the political needs of swing-district congressman and because of labor shortages in low-skill sectors of the economy.
Interesting that Gowdy focuses on low-skill labor shortages. South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 8% is slightly higher than the national average. While I could not find up-to-the-moment labor force participation data at the state level, South Carolina labor force participation rate has lagged the national labor force participation rate for years. Gowdy’s district has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but his home county (the largest in the district) also has the highest percentage of temporary workers of any county in the country. It does not seem that employers of low-skill labor have too little leverage in South Carolina, but that is what they tell Gowdy and that is what Gowdy is telling us.
One could hope for rising wages to induce marginally attached workers into the labor market. One could propose changing unemployment insurance to make it easier for workers to go where the jobs are. Or one can propose an increase in low-skill immigration into that sector of the economy where unemployment is already high, where employment is most precarious for those who do have jobs. and where compensation has been declining for thirty years. A national conservative party would seek limited government policies that might help arrest the long-term decline in labor-force participation and family stability among low-skill American citizens and current residents. An employer-interest faction would just seek to increase the leverage of employers against low-skill workers who can’t cut it.
H/T to a pseudonym-using NRO commenter for the temporary workers link and information.