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11 Responses to “Three Types of Inactivity”
a href=”http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2004/novdec/images/features/interrogators/interrogators_hood.jpg”>here’s another
Pew Hispanic Center Report: Unemployment Plays Small Role in Spurring Mexican Migration to U.S.
Washington, DC – The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released today. The report suggests that failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.
Once they arrive and pass through a relatively brief period of transition and adjustment, migrants have little trouble finding work, according to the study. Family and social networks play a significant role in this; large shares of migrants report talking to people they know in the U.S. about job opportunities and living with relatives after arrival. They easily make transitions into new jobs, even though most find themselves working in industries that are new to them. Also, many are paid at minimum-wage levels or below, and it is not uncommon for these workers to experience relatively long spells of unemployment.
The demand for labor appears to play a strong role in shaping the economic destiny of Mexican migrants. Regardless of their background and origin in Mexico or their year of arrival, migrants are concentrated in the same handful of industries in the U.S. — agriculture, hospitality, construction and manufacturing. However, there are also signs of change in the characteristics of migrants and the nature of the demand for them. The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors (though their education levels remain low by U.S. standards). They are also increasingly coming from a greater variety of regions in Mexico and making homes in new Mexican-migrant settlement areas in the U.S., such as New York and Raleigh, N.C. The latest arrivals are less likely to be farm workers and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales. More and more, Mexican migrants are being hired in the construction and hospitality industries in the U.S.
These findings emerge from the Pew Hispanic Center’s Survey of Mexican Migrants. The survey provides detailed information on the demographic characteristics, living arrangements, work experiences and attitudes toward immigration of 4,836 Mexican migrants who completed a 12-page questionnaire as they were applying for a matrícula consular, an identity document issued by Mexican diplomatic missions. The survey was not a random sample of foreign-born Mexicans but one designed to generate the maximum number of observations of migrants who were seeking further documentation of their identity in the U.S. Fieldwork was conducted in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh and Fresno, Calif., from July 12, 2004, to Jan. 28, 2005. While respondents were not asked directly to specify their immigration status, most are believed to lack authorization to work in the U.S. Thus, the survey provides a unique opportunity to study the economic status of a population that is otherwise very difficult to measure.
The major findings of this study are:
• Unemployment plays a minimal role in motivating workers from Mexico to migrate to the U.S. Only 5% of the survey respondents who have been in the U.S. for two years or less were unemployed while still in Mexico.
• Unemployment in the U.S. is above normal only for respondents who have been here for less than six months. Nearly 15% of the latest arrivals reported they were not currently working. But only about 5% of respondents who migrated more than six months ago reported they were unemployed in the U.S.
• Immigration status has little impact on the likelihood of unemployment in the U.S. Respondents who reported that they have a U.S. government-issued ID had the same employment experiences as those who do not have any documents making them eligible for legal employment.
• Family networks play a key role in locating jobs for migrants. More than 80% of respondents have a relative other than a spouse or child in the U.S., and talking with friends and relatives in the U.S. was the most commonly cited method–by 45% of respondents–for finding information about jobs in the U.S.
• Migrants from Mexico are responsive to regional variations in demand for their services. Construction is the dominant industry for employing migrants in Atlanta, Dallas and Raleigh; hospitality is the major employer in New York City; manufacturing in Chicago; and agriculture in Fresno.
• A very high percentage (38%) of migrants reported experiencing a spell of unemployment lasting more than a month in the past year. This unusually widespread–compared to other U.S. workers–experience of temporary unemployment is evident among Mexican migrants regardless of their year of arrival, legal status, education and survey city.
• The median weekly earnings of survey respondents are only $300. Earnings are especially low among women, those who speak no English and those who do not have a U.S. government-issued ID.
• Migrant workers in the survey have a background that resembles the core of Mexico’s labor force. Two-thirds of respondents who entered the U.S. in the past two years worked in agriculture, construction, manufacturing or retail trade in Mexico. That is also true for 57% of the labor force in Mexico.
Traxus I notice that Lawrence of Sherbertia likes the way you used her stylistic method in this post. You should take good note of this because when you’re transported to her Parisian Xanadu, you will be expected to do a lot of that Rosebud-type of thing for her Empire’s public relations office.
I’m wondering about employment implications of building the wall between the US and Mexico. Assuming the Pew study isn’t fatally flawed methodologically, then nearly all the illegal immigrants were already working in Mexico. On average they only earn something like $16K in the States, which is about a third of the average American wage. Still, it’s a lot better than the $11K average in Mexico. The unemployment rate in Mexico is something like 3%, which is better than in the States, but many jobs are temporary, part-time, with no benefits — i.e. pretty much like the employment opportunities available to them as illegals in the States.
So with free movement of workers across the border curtailed, more Mexican workers are competing for the same jobs at home, driving up unemployment and driving down wages. Under NAFTA the multinationals can build whatever factories they want in Mexico, which with the depressed wage rate they have a greater incentive to do. So down go Mexican workers’ wages and up go multinational profits.
On the other side of the border, the average wage for menial labor should go up. However, the usual employers of illegal workers are mostly small businesses, who have less to lose PR-wise by paying people under the table. So these small employers must pay higher wages, putting them at a competitive disadvantage relative to larger employers — corporate farms, chain restaurants, etc. So more of the small businesses will go under or be acquired by the large corporations. And through economies of scale the larger employers will probably not need to fill as many jobs as existed before. And more low-paying jobs will go across the border to Mexican multinational installations. And I suppose the corporate farmers will lobby for increased subsidies to offset increased labor costs, so they can still underprice the Mexican producers both here and there.
Does that seem roughly accurate?
thanks everyone —
i’m currently sort of inactive myself and not able to post much – sorry ktis/dejan if i can’t keep up on the linguistics/psychology chat (if that’s still going on?).
“Traxus I notice that Lawrence of Sherbertia likes the way you used her stylistic method in this post.”
but it’s so much fun! i would rip you off too except i haven’t learned flash.
ktismatics – thanks for the article – it’s true, ’employment’ is a very variable category these days. your analysis sounds accurate to me, also pretty much textbook marx, i have to add. wish i could give you more of a response but time is short, maybe later.
chabert – yeah, i forgot that one. the opportunities (and typologies) perpetually expand!
but it’s so much fun! i would rip you off too except i haven’t learned flash.
FLASH is almost cretinous, you’ll learn it in 3 days. Photoshop (better to say Image Ready) can also make banners and ads.
And that’s a good, attitude. At the Parisian Xanadu they appreciate the employee’s initiative, especially since they don’t pay overtime.
Another type of inactivity: this blog for the past week.
Zizek was right this time. We pray for the defeat of the evil Chavez, despot-hick of Venezuela:
Shutting Up Venezuela’s Chávez
By ROGER COHEN
It was a fascist general in 1930s Spain who coined the phrase “Viva la muerte!” or “Long live death!” Essentially meaningless, the words captured the cult of soil, blood and savagery that coursed through European Fascism, in its Francoist and other forms.
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela hates fascists; they are central to his repertoire of insults. But he has not hesitated to deploy the imagery of death to bolster his leftist brand of petro-authoritarianism, now operating under the ludicrous banner of “Fatherland, Socialism or Death!”
The slogan looks almost quaint in its anachronism. Chávez would no doubt claim Cuban revolutionary, rather than Spanish fascist, roots for it (Fidel Castro also invoked fatherland and finality). The bottom line is this: Latin America’s oil-gilded caudillo is getting serious about ruling for life, just like Franco and Castro.
I might add Vladimir Putin to that list. Like the Russian leader, Chávez has already used gushing oil revenue, a pliant judiciary, subservient institutions and the galvanizing appeal of vitriolic anti-Americanism to concoct a 21st-century, gulag-free authoritarianism. But even Putin has not contemplated going as far as Chávez now intends to take his “Bolivarian revolution.”
Venezuelans will vote Sunday in a referendum that would remove all limits on presidential re-election, grant Chávez direct control over foreign currency reserves, allow him to censor the media under a state of emergency declarable at his discretion, expand his powers to expropriate private property and create the second formally socialist nation in the Americas alongside Fidel’s.
“The measures amount to a constitutional coup,” said Teodoro Petkoff, who edits an opposition newspaper. Certainly, they would prod Venezuela from an oppressive rule comparable to Mexico’s under its once impregnable Institutional Revolutionary Party toward the dictatorial absolutism of Cuba.
Unlike other votes during Chávez’s nine-year presidency, and unlike the assured victory of Putin’s United Russia Party in voting the same day, the referendum is not a foregone conclusion.
Overcoming inertia, opponents led by students have energized a “No” campaign. A general once close to Chávez has denounced a looming coup d’état. Polls suggest a close outcome.
But awash in petrodollars — oil accounts for about 90 percent of Venezuelan exports — Chávez commands formidable resources. They are centered in the armed forces; a huge nomenklatura scattered across the bureaucracy and newly nationalized industries; the so-called Boliburgesía (Bolivarian bourgeoisie) of traders grown rich working the angles of a corrupt system; and the poor whom Chávez has helped and manipulated.
Certainly, the oil money Chávez has plowed into poor neighborhoods (at the expense of an oil industry suffering chronic underinvestment) has reduced poverty. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America said last year that the extreme poverty rate had fallen to 9.9 percent from 15.9 percent.
But more than spreading socialist ideals, Chávez has spread a form of crony capitalism, dedicated to his greater glory, that has imbued the economy with all the resilience of a house of cards.
Foreign investment has plunged, scared off by nationalizations. A huge disparity between the official and black-market exchange rates has encouraged get-rich-quick schemes for favored “Chávistas” while erecting endless barriers to trade. Price controls on staples have made eggs unavailable. This week, you can’t find chickens. Chávez’s socialism delivers subsidized gasoline and glittering malls but no milk.
Latin America has been here before, with the disastrous import-substitution and highly regulated models of the 1960s and ’70s. Most of the region has moved on, but not Chávez, who trumpets “growth from within,” whatever that is. The World Bank’s recently released “Doing Business 2008,” a ranking of the ease of conducting commerce, places Venezuela 172nd out of 178 countries.
Despite this, the country does huge business with the United States, as its fourth-largest crude oil supplier and a big importer. Chávez’s “socialism” and his chumminess with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad do not extend to cutting off the “imperialist empire.” Chávez is too shrewd to sever his lifeline.
A possible conclusion would be that he’s harmless — a wily barracks-bred buffoon whose leftist rhetoric is just a veneer for a petrodollar power play. Perhaps that’s why the United States — and Latin American nations — have been so muted, or silent, before Chávez’s attempted “constitutional coup.” Oil speaks.
But Chávez’s grab for socialist-emperor status is grotesque and dangerous — as Fascism was — a terrible example for a region that has been consolidating democracy. King Juan Carlos of Spain got it right when he recently interrupted Chávez’s trademark verbal diarrhea with a brusque: “Why don’t you just shut up?”
Venezuelans should watch that regal routine on YouTube — it’s even been set to music — and follow suit on Sunday.