Immigrants may have played a substantial role in the American coronaplague. Via immigration and children of immigrants we grew our population from 200 million to 330 million (Pew) with no corresponding increase in health care system capacity. So our terror regarding overburdened hospitals was in some ways a result of the immigration. The worst-plagued cities in the U.S. have been New York (40 percent foreign-born) and Boston (25 percent foreign-born).
But the shutdown plus policies that have made collecting unemployment more lucrative than working for the typical American are winnowing the natives out of the labor force. See “Since coronavirus crisis began, one-fifth of Massachusetts workforce has filed for unemployment” (masslive, April 30), for example. Also, “Labor Markets During the Covid-19 Crisis: A Preliminary View” (Berkeley and U. Chicago agree that Americans don’t like to work!):
First, job loss has been significantly larger than implied by new unemployment claims: we estimate 20 million lost jobs by April 8th, far more than jobs lost over the entire Great Recession. Second, many of those losing jobs are not actively looking to find new ones. As a result, we estimate the rise in the unemployment rate over the corresponding period to be surprisingly small, only about 2 percentage points. Third, participation in the labor force has declined by 7 percentage points, an unparalleled fall that dwarfs the three percentage point cumulative decline that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Early retirement almost fully explains the drop in labor force participation both for those survey participants previously employed and those previously looking for work.
In other words, a lot of existing Americans are done working! This is consistent with past periods of unemployment, in which Americans who get accustomed to lying on the couch watching TV while consuming alcohol and opioids transition seamlessly to SSDI (see “Long-Term Joblessness and Disability Benefits Receipt” (ssa.gov): “At 20 years after their job loss (voluntary or involuntary), these workers had a 25 percentage point higher likelihood of receiving DI or SSI benefits”).
Could it be, then, that to replace the Americans who stop working we will need to grow the population to 400 million or so? (we don’t have an Australia/New Zealand/Canada-style policy favoring working-age skilled immigrants so we will probably need 10-20 immigrants to replace each skilled American who has gone into SSDI/opioids or conventional retirement) And then, when the next plague hits (evolution may just be a theory, but it seems to produce a steady supply of new viruses…), we’ll get into a double secret panic regarding hospital capacity.
- When Swedish infidels do business in the U.S… the IKEA Covid-19 page says “we have made the decision to furlough hourly U.S. co-workers in store locations and our Service Office effective April 19, 2020. This will allow our hourly co-workers, who are no longer able to work due to closures, to apply for expanded unemployment benefits.”