In what is described as the modern day equivalent of selling apples during the great depression, U.S. citizens are joining immigrants in store parking lots competing for a few hours of day labor at places like Home Depot.

Inquiring minds are reading about The new faces of day labor.

In the latest sign of the Las Vegas Valley’s economic free fall, U.S. citizens are starting to show up in the early mornings outside home improvement stores and plant nurseries across the Las Vegas Valley, jostling with illegal immigrants for a shot at a few hours of work.

Experts say the slow-starting but seemingly inexorable trend is occurring nationwide.

“It’s the equivalent of selling apples in the Great Depression,” said Harley Shaiken, chairman of the Center for Latin American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said he has been seeing the same thing elsewhere.

“It’s happening, though still not in massive numbers,” Alvarado said. In the past six months or so, he has heard of “americanos” on the street corners and parking lots of Silver Spring, Md., Long Island, N.Y., and Southern California locations.

“It’s just beginning,” he said. “But I think it’s only going to increase.”

At Home Depot on Decatur Boulevard north of Tropicana Avenue, Jose said the same thing, adding that “it’s never more than three or four, but they’re coming out.”

Farther south, in front of Moon Valley Nursery on Eastern Avenue, Israel said a couple of “americanos” — white and black, he added — have come out for work in recent months. “But they tend to stay only a few days.”

As a salesman at Moon Valley, Mike Fugitt’s job includes making sure the laborers don’t come into the nursery’s parking lot, because their presence draws complaints from some customers. In the past three months or so, he said, more of those laborers have been telling him, “But I’m an American.” That includes some Hispanics, he added. “But I treat them all the same; they can’t be trespassing,” he said.

Workers at all the sites said the presence of the americanos hasn’t made work scarcer or produced any conflict. Some suggested that people hiring day laborers prefer Hispanics anyway, because of their reputation as hard workers.

Shaiken said shaking up the mix at day labor sites may eventually produce conflict in the greater society. “It essentially shreds the argument that Americans don’t want certain jobs,” he said.

In the current economy, he added, “we’re almost sure to see die-hard opponents of illegal immigrants seize on the fact that we have legal workers in day labor markets,” heating an already-inflamed debate.

At the same time, Shaiken said, the issue won’t become central to the debate before Congress over what is known as comprehensive reform, including a pathway for legalizing millions of workers. “The point is, do we really want a labor market with day labor work as a career path?

Antonio Bernabe, day labor organizer for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said the appearance of more and more U.S. citizens seeking day labor work on corners and in parking lots poses new challenges for organizations such as his. In recent months, he said, he has found himself explaining to a whole new group the legal rights of workers, as well as approaching local authorities to discuss the entry of new people into what he called “the world of day labor.” That group includes blacks and Asians, he said.

Another difference is that now he’s giving those explanations to laborers in English.

Sprint plans to cut up to 2,500 jobs

In other news Sprint plans to cut up to 2,500 jobs.

Sprint Nextel Corp. on Monday said it will cut 2,000 to 2,500 jobs, mostly before the end of the year, as it keeps losing subscribers.

The wireless carrier, based in Overland Park, Kan., said the goal is to cut labor costs by at least $350 million per year.

Sprint shares rose on the announcement, closing up 58 cents, or 20 percent, at $3.43.

The company started the year with about 56,000 employees. It then cut 8,000 jobs in the first half of the year. It is also transferring 6,000 employees to LM Ericsson AB, a Swedish contractor that is taking over management of Sprint’s network.

The new career path for those Sprint employees is now laid out.

More Layoff Announcements

Those are all recent announcements and I am sure there are dozens more. Note the wide variety of industries affected.

Reflections On Obama’s Job Creation Efforts

Let’s take another look at the Obama Administration’s job creation efforts.Please consider Obama creates 640,329 jobs at a cost of $323,739.83 per job.

The US economic stimulus programme has directly created or saved 640,000 jobs so far, the White House said on Friday as it battled to find ways to show that its $787bn package was working, despite persistently high unemployment.

Math To Date

Funds paid out so far = $83.8 billion + $52.1 billion + $71.4 billion = $207.3 billion
$207,300,000,000 / 640,329 = $323,739.83 per job created

Stimulus Cost/Benefit Analysis

Several people emailed me that I was ignoring other benefits. One bright person emailed that I was ignoring hidden costs. Let’s look at both.

We did fix some roads that did not need fixing. Perhaps we even managed to fix some roads that did need fixing. One person talked of a new airstrip. OK, but was it needed? How much did it cost? Will it bring in any jobs or revenues? At what cost in jobs to the neighboring town?

Let’s ponder other unseen negatives.

Taxes are going up for small businesses. That will reduce hiring. Interest is added to the national debt. That will cost economic growth in the future. Government spending takes money away from the private sector. And topping it off, most of the so-called stimulus (if not all of it), created short-term gains at long term cost. Both cash-for-clunkers and housing tax credits are in that category.

Here is a bonus problem most have not figured out: The tax credits stimulated housing when there is an oversupply already. Some received tax credits for houses they would buy anyway, the others left rentals to buy into inflated housing prices.

As a direct consequence of the above, rental vacancies are rising, rents are falling and there is increased pressure on commercial real estate prices as a direct consequence.

Total it all up and the true cost of all the various stimulus programs is far in excess of $323,739.83 per job created. Indeed, the net effect will help solidify the new career path toward day labor rates.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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