Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The quest for cheap labor

Cost of labor is a big deal in labor intensive or high-value added jobs as the hospitality industry or agriculture. As a result, the H-2B visa program comes in handy to employers who don't want to break the bank and get away with paying minimum wage to temporary workers from the Caribbeans or Mexico.

Yesterday morning, I heard on NPR a piece by Fred Bever, a reporter and producer for Maine Public Radio, who said that Maine summer resorts' employers were complaining about the scarcity of these visas.

I immediately thought that if local employers paid their people better they'd get plenty of workers. I believe that in January of this year Maine's minimum wage went from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour, but $12, $13 or even $15 should be able to attract locals or better yet, US students who'd love to earn some money during the summer months.

Vacationers would pay a little more for their room and board, small businesses might have to squeeze their margins a tiny bit, but in the end, it would be a win-win for all. So why cry about the lack of availability of H-2B visa when market forces and American people could take care of the situation?

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