The United States and Australia Compared
Monash Studies in Global Movements series
Edited by John Higley, John Nieuwenhuysen and Stine Neerup
Chapter 2: Immigration, Labour Markets and Immigration Reform in the United States
Philip Martin In 2008–09 the world experienced its worst recession in over half a century. Most industrial economies shrank, trade plunged and unemployment rates doubled in countries such as Spain and the US. These economic changes occurred shortly after discussions of the ‘need’ for additional migrant workers at all rungs of the job ladder to sustain economic growth. Former member of the House of Representatives Lee Hamilton (Democrat, Indiana), in January 2007 said: ‘we are short now of a lot of people that we need to make this country work and more productive and more competitive and more entrepreneurial . . . We are totally dependent on a handful of nationalities to run our cab system in this country . . . Well, if that’s what we need, cab drivers—and we can’t produce them in the local economy—then we’re going to have to import them’ (Lee Hamilton quoted in Migration News, 2007) By mid-2010 most industrial economies were recovering. Global economic growth was forecast to top 4 per cent in 2010 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including 2 per cent in industrial countries and 6 per cent in developing countries. However, the US unemployment rate, which dipped below 4 per cent in late 2000 and below 4.5 per cent in early 2007, hit 10 per cent in autumn 2009 and remained near that level throughout 2010, despite some resumption of job growth. Unemployment rates are higher than average in US industries and occupations such as construction that attracted foreign-born workers during...
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