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How’s Business?: Immigrant jobs

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You’ve just graduated from college or perhaps you’ve lost your job or are looking to change employment. What kind of job are you looking for?

Chances are quite slim that you’re looking for a career in washing dishes, scrubbing down lavatories or carrying around bricks at a local construction site. But these are jobs that must be done.

Now enters the immigrant worker. In the past they were largely the faces of Italy, Poland, Ireland, Greece and Germany. Today they emerge mainly from Mexico, Colombia, China, Russia, India and Korea. The large influx of illegal immigrants has led to a proposal by President George Bush for three-year renewable working visas.

Whether it is fully accepted and passed by Congress remains to be seen, but if it is ratified, what are the pros and cons for small businesses here in Queens? The advantages are numerous. With the evasion of taxes by many workers who are paid off the books, such a move would ease tax pressure with the anticipated increase in tax collections.

There also would be a further increase in much-needed jobs, as additional government employees would be required to fill documentation-processing positions. One of several examples would be more manpower required at an agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. Such immigrants would qualify for drivers’ licenses and would certainly apply for them.

Immigrants also would be included in the Social Security pool and therefore add fund contributions, which will be greatly needed in the rapidly growing retirement payment roll of baby boomers. This increased revenue contribution, of course, would lead to less stress in rising payments, especially for small businesses. And since all immigrants at the very least would be earning minimum-wage salaries, they would be able to maintain far higher discretionary spending.

This spending would lead to higher sales for merchants in Queens, which in turn would lead to more jobs for non-immigrant workers.

On the downside, however, small businesses would have to endure higher costs since they no longer would be able to hire illegal aliens at lower wages. The overlay of government red tape with industries such as construction would then require strict enforcement of individual insurance coverage. In addition, there is the reality of American workers’ getting shut out of some borderline-paying jobs.

Some counter-top jobs forced to pay $9 an hour and up due to a shortage of participants might then turn away those applicants in favor of minimum-wage immigrant applicants. So how’s business comparative to immigrants? History clearly illustrates that immigration has always been healthy for America. With proper leadership the trend should be sustained.

Joe Palumbo is the fund manager of The Palco Group Inc., an investment company, and can be reached at palcogroup@aol.com or 718-461-8317.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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