On Monday, the United States and Mexico reached an agreement to change parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As per the scant details available, it is being considered good for small businesses. However, the latest trade deal ignores one of the major issues of the immigrants.
Unemployment in the US is low, while all businesses, especially small businesses are struggling to find employees. On the other hand, the immigration laws have also been strengthened to restrict access to both skilled and unskilled workers, which provide much of the low-level work that underlies the economy.
The executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers Council, Joyce Kelly said, immigrant workers are “paramount to the success of agriculture and the ag industry. Trying to find people who will work on a hog farm and are dependable and reliable is very, very difficult. It has to be addressed.”
Colorado is facing a low unemployment rate (about 2.7%) and rising minimum wages, both factors which are putting pressure on small business owners in the state.
The problem is expected to get worse, as the low-skilled workers in the US are likely to decline over the upcoming years due to an older population and better education. Particularly at disadvantage are those running restaurants, shops, technology, construction, healthcare and personal service firms. This is why, US will need more unskilled labor from Mexico.
As per the New York Times report, the United States needs more low-skilled immigrants. Besides, between 2014 and 2024, eight of the 15 occupations are predicted to experience fastest growth.
A professor of economics at the University of California, David Card said, “Ten years from now, there are going to be lots of older people with relatively few low-skilled workers to change their bedpans. That is going to be a huge problem.”
Unfortunately, from the details presented so far, the latest trade deal ignored this issue. Many believe that the trade bill with Mexico and immigration reform are two different issues. However, for most small businesses, especially the ones relying on low-skilled workers, both the issues are much tangled.