Wall Street Admits The Biggest Economic Shocker: All Jobs In The Past Year Have Gone To Illegal Aliens

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 06, 2024 - 11:25 PM

For much of the past year we had been pounding the table on two very simple facts:  not only has the US labor market been appallingly weak, with most of the jobs "gained" in 2023 and meant to signal how strong the Biden "recovery" has been, about to be revised away (as first the Philly Fed and now Bloomberg both admit), but more shockingly, all the job growth in the past few years has gone to illegal aliens.

We first pointed this out more than a year ago, and since then we have routinely repeated - again, again, and again - yet even though we made it abundantly clear what was happening...

... going so far as to point out the specific immigration loophole illegals were using to work in the US for up to 5 years...

... and even fact-checking the senile, ballot-harvesting White House occupant on multiple occasions...

... we were shocked that the topic of most if not all US jobs going to illegals was still not "the biggest political talking point" of all.

That's about to change, however, because with just under 5 months left until the election, and with immigration by far the hottest political topic out there, others are finally starting to connect the dots we laid out more than a year ago.

The first Wall Street analyst daring to point out that the employment emperor is naked, is Standard Chartered's global head of macro, Steve Englander who in a note titled simply enough "Immigration leading to labor-market surge" (and available to pro subscribers in the usualk place), writes that according to his estimates "undocumented immigrants account for half of job growth in FY24 so far" (the actual number is far higher but we understand his initial conservatism), and adds that "asylum seekers and humanitarian parolees explain the surge in undocumented immigrants" before concluding that the continued rise in EAD approvals likely will extend strong employment growth in 2024. In other words, "strong employment growth" for American citizens, always was and remains a fabulation, and the only job growth in the US is for illegals, who will work for below minimum wage, which also explains why inflation hasn't spiked in the past year as millions of illegals were hired.

Below we excerpt from the Englander note because we hope that more economists, strategists and politicians will read it and grasp what we have been saying for over a year.

Echoing what we have said for months, Englander writes that immigration, particularly illegal immigration, "is a political flashpoint that has also become an important factor in assessing economic performance. Detailed data from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggest that half of non-farm payroll (NFP) growth to date for FY24 (started 1 October 2023) has been from undocumented immigrants who have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)" (he defines undocumented immigrants as those who entered the US through non-traditional immigration pathways, such as asylum seekers, parolees, and refugees).

The ability to track EAD issuance to undocumented workers is an advantage in estimating how much they have contributed to employment growth. NFP counts workers with an EAD just like any other. Using that data, it is easy to estimate that undocumented workers have added 109k jobs per month to NFP out of the average 231k increase so far in FY24.

Which is staggering since last night we showed that about 100K monthly jobs are purely statistical distortions, and the real pace of job growth in the past year has been around 130K.

So if 100K jobs per month are fabricated birth/death artifacts (i.e., not real jobs but a statistically goalseeked fudge factor), and another 109K jobs per month are illegal aliens, that leaves just about 11K jobs for everyone else, i.e., law abiding Americans.

It also means that the labor market in the US has - for the past year - been an absolute catastrophe and harbinger of economic disaster (and is why last night we pointed out "The "Unexpected" Reason Why The Fed Will Rush To Cut Rates As Soon As Possible").

But wait, as Englander himself admits, the 109K estimate of illegal aliens "may be an underestimate since undocumented immigrants often have limited access to benefits, so they may be heavily motivated to find employment. The GDP impact might be lower if these workers are less educated and face language barriers in the work force."

Here, Englander - who did not do the Birth/Death analysis - writes that if one excludes these illegal immigrant workers, "NFP may be running at c.125k per month" and adds that "such a pace is not recession but is hardly boom time and represents a moderate underlying pace of labor demand. It should make the 231k FY24 pace of headline NFP less worrisome to the FOMC. FOMC participants might be less hawkish if the impact of undocumented immigrants on NFP was well estimated and understood."

Of course, if the Std Chartered analyst were to factor for the true collapse in Birth-Death adjustments discussed yesterday by Bloomberg...

... the real number would be, well, zero!

While the political reason behind the propaganda misrepresentation of the US jobs market is simple: after all, in an election year it is imperative that the Biden economy be portrayed as glowingly as possible, even if it means lying about everything, the cascading consequences from this fabrication are staggering. As Englander concedes, "this added labor supply also may have shifted trend employment and GDP growth, making it hard to gauge whether a strong NFP or even GDP number reflects supply or demand. If supply is driving upside surprises, the takeaway is more optimism that inflation will slow. If demand, the opposite. Soft economic data should be seen through the lens of added labor supply, while strong data releases are ambiguous."

Taking a closer look, such increased labor supply - from illegals - should put downward pressure on wage growth relative to a baseline with less immigration (documented or not). In measures such as average hourly earnings, the disinflationary impact would be two-fold:

  1. lower wages overall from an increase of labour supply relative to labour demand and
  2. a composition effect because the undocumented immigrants often work in low wage industries even with EADs.

However, this is likely to be a gradual process, so the low wage impact may not be immediately visible. In addition, insofar as these workers’ wages reflect relatively low productivity, the composition effect on wages will be offset by a composition effect on productivity – unit labour cost growth may be unchanged.

These observations notwithstanding, one can assume that the contribution of undocumented immigrants to employment is unlikely to change any time soon. Indeed, over the last 12 months an average of 280k undocumented immigrants per month have been encountered nationally, most whom can or will be eligible to work legally in coming months. The same methodology suggests that these workers contributed about one-third of FY23 employment growth.

It gets worse.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that in fiscal 2023 a further 860k individuals crossed the border without contact with US immigration authorities. While these people are not eligible for EADs they may still work off the books or with fake or borrowed documents. As such, their output and spending will show up in GDP, although it is unlikely that much if any of their "labor input" is captured. These, along with others (tourists who overstay visas, students whose visas have expired, etc.) are technically undocumented as well. But since few are eligible for EADs, it is unlikely that they are captured in any BLS survey.

In any event, Englander estimates that over 800k undocumented immigrants found jobs in FY23, and assumes that 64.2% of EAD recipients (the average for the foreign-born population) are working. However, the employment rate may well be higher since these are likely to be "very motivated" workers, since they are not generally eligible for unemployment insurance and other benefits, so work is a necessity for many.

Ssing this calculation, and since Nonfarm Payrolls grew 3.1 million in FY23, the 800k would represent more than 25% of NFP growth.

But what about those record numbers of multiple job-holders we have also discussed.

Ah yes, to address that Englander next calculates an augmented version of NFP that includes agricultural workers, self- and family-employed workers from the household survey (CPS), and subtracts multiple-job holders. By this measure employment grew 2.7 million (this is largely due to a rise in multiple-job holders, which are subtracted to avoid double counting). So far in FY24, on average over 170k undocumented immigrants have received EAD approvals every month and c.109k have found work based on employment rates. And since NFP has averaged 230k per month, these workers likely accounted for around half of job growth. Again, this number excludes the roughly 100k per month addition coming from birth/death calculation distortions which will soon be revised away as Bloomberg's chief economist Anna Wong calculated, before concluding that "by the end of the year the printed level of nonfarm-payrolls for 2024 likely will overstate true employment by at least one million."

Again, this means that when stripping away the 100K in statistical "jobs" from the 230K monthly payroll number, and then removing the 109K in illegal alien workers, the number of jobs added by ordinary, legal, native-born, Americans in the past year has been - more or less - zero.

We, for one, can't wait for Joe Biden to explain how this was remotely possible during his upcoming debate with Trump in three weeks time.

Much more in the full must-read note - especially to those who will be prepping Donald Trump for his upcoming debate - from Englander available to pro subscribers in the usual place.