How much "low-skilled" labor does the US actually need?

(First let me say I don’t like the term “low-skilled” but I wasn’t sure how else to phrase this.)

As someone who worked in education you would often hear - largely from people on the left - how it was more vital now of getting an education because of the changing labor market, which is also behind this push to get more kids in college. Yet some of the very same people advocate for more open immigration from Central and South America. Clearly I don’t know what the educational degree status is for all the people looking to come here, but I’m sure it is fair to assume that very few if any have advanced degrees? Actually its my understanding that by and large they are poorly educated and hence will not be going into high tech jobs.

So which is it? Does our economy have a more a growing need for “low-skilled” labor or are those jobs becoming more scarce and if so what is the best type of immigration policy to have?


The health aide positions represent the fastest growing low-skill positions. In large cities, these jobs are largely filled by immigrants.

Most of the high growth positions though are of the higher skilled variety (though I’m not sure about the raw numbers, there are 3 million health and personal care aides).

Personally I think that the whole notion of the growing need of a high skilled workforce was overblown, but that is what I would hear and read as someone being in education. But I don’t study the job market and its needs, so I clearly aknowledge ignorance on aspects of this.

As the world grows more automated, there will be less need for low skilled workers. And what need their is for it will be sent offshore.

This is news you won’t here from the mainstream media, just look at how our big corporations exploit cheap labor.

Over 70,000 Mexicans working in sweat shops striking that are working for American companies such as Ford and GM they are being paid $9.00 a day.

You can’t offshore many of these jobs or they already would have been sent offshore… The biggest impact of AI and automation will be to professionals who have enjoyed high wages in jobs that require thinking versus physical labor.

Holy crap! I spend more on my dog.

They can definitely automate the auto industry and every other industry as well. Think of places like Mcdonalds which has a half million workers going automated. I have seen were they are working on grocery scanners were one just runs their food cart under a scanner and it scans every object, no need for a bagger or cashier.

Walmart and supermarkets both have implemented about a dozen self-checkout lanes in which one or two employees oversee them and hence 2 people can now do the job of twelve. Although the fact is that those two people do need to have computer science degrees. In other words 12 “low-skilled” jobs were replaced by 2 “low-skilled” jobs.

So are you saying that we will need less people going to college?

Obviously, the establishment, left and right, believes we need enough low-skilled labor to keep those labor rates down so the rest of us can get cheap stuff and a few can pocket huge amounts of cash.

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Many. Every time a boomer buys their first adult diapers, America needs 2.5 more immigrants.

Like a certain someone with a certain resort in jersey

There is a need for both low and high. There is no contradiction.

Paul Krugman 2006

“Immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand: we’re talking about large increases in the number of low-skill workers relative to other inputs into production, so it’s inevitable that this means a fall in wages… the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.”


Blaming “the establishment” is always a good argument.

That’s not how I phrased the OP. Of course there will be jobs that only require minimal training or education, the question is which way is the labor market heading? Places like the supermarket, Lowes, Walmart, etc., are putting in more and more self-checkout lanes. Restaurants are putting in more kiosks for self ordering. So clearly there is a technological push in certain areas to eliminate certain jobs.

So does our economy need thousands and thousands and thousands (whatever the number) of “low-skilled” labor from Central and South America?

Yes it does.

There is something like 5 million job opening in America currently.

If you think immigration is only about “Low skill” jobs your mistaken its about all jobs. America doesn’t produce enough babies to keep the economy growing.