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Yes, Americans Can Work In Meatpacking Plants
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July 22, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Mickey Kaus asks
Rocky Balboa, I.D. Please! At a well-attended Zocalo public forum on immigration in L.A. on Wednesday, prominent attorney/activist Connie Rice asserted confidently that one thing the experts agree on is that Americans aren`t willing to take meatpacking-plant jobs. Is that right? ... 12:14 P.M.
Nope. There are no industries which are entirely in the hands immigrants. It`s just that mass immigration lowers wages, displaces workers, and after a certain tipping point, may discourage workers from working in a largely Hispanic plant or industry. But all these industries have a huge majority of still-employed Amerians. But here are some figures from the American Meat Institute.
According to a recent American Meat Institute survey of members, 69 percent of the industry workforce is comprised of Caucasians; 10 percent is black; 19 percent is Hispanic; two percent is Asian and less than one percent is Native American. The survey also showed that five percent of the workforce overall is comprised of noncitizen workers.

In some regions of the country, like along the U.S.-Mexican border, these percentages tend to be higher, especially for Hispanic workers. One major company has a plant based in Illinois where 10 percent of its workforce is Hispanic, while the workforce in one of its Texas plants is 85 percent Hispanic.[PDF]

Ed Rubenstein recently wrote a National Data piece, Looking (in vain) for "Jobs Americans Won`t Do" which gave figures for the some of the most heavily affected industries the figures look like this:
  • drywall/ceiling tile installers, 27%
  • landscaping services, 26%
  • roofers, 21%
  • maids and housekeepers, 22%
  • animal slaughter and processing, 20%
So, no, it`s not right. There are almost no jobs Americans won`t do, it`s just that some industries won`t pay the wages Americans want.