How about Americans’ Dreams for a Better Future?

By Wayne Lutton, Ph.D.
Volume 24, Number 2 (Winter 2014)
Issue theme: "Whatever happened to the American Dream?"

Late last year, the bipartisan No Labels organization conducted a survey, which found that only 38 percent of the respondents feel America’s best days are ahead of us, versus the majority who think that time has passed. Only 26 percent believe that the next generation of Americans will be better off than this generation, with 62 percent concluding that the coming generation will be worse off. A recent Bloomberg survey found that 68 percent of respondents said that the gap between rich and everyone else is getting bigger, and 64 percent said that individuals do not have an equal chance of getting ahead [William Galston, “A Decade of Decline in the American Dream,” Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2013, p. A 15].

On December 6, 2013, the federal government released its end of the year report on the job market. In November, employers added about 200,000 jobs for a total of around 2.3 million over the past year. But these additions remained too weak to recoup from the millions of jobs lost during the depths of the recession in 2008-2009. And, as Edwin Rubenstein has documented, too many of the new jobs are going to immigrants, not people already here legally. The federal report disclosed that there was no decline in the number of long-term unemployed — those out of work for more than six months. The share of the population working or actively looking for work continues to trend downward, with the participation rate now at a 35-year low. Furthermore, as Ben Casselman and Jon Hilsenrath noted in their Wall Street Journal analysis, “It isn’t only the number of jobs that matters, but the quality — a concern during the recovery due to weak wage growth and a concentration of job gains in low-paying sectors…. Nearly a third of private-sector gains came from retailers, hotels, restaurants and temporary-help agencies — typically low-paying sectors.” [Casselman and Hilsenrath, “Job Market Needs to Find Higher Gear,” WSJ, December 7-8, 2013, p. A 4]

The contributors to this issue of The Social Contract review how mass immigration, and related issues, including outsourcing and technological change, is shattering the American Dream. As we go to press, a coalition of what Donald Collins, in his column of January 16, 2014, identifies as “cheap labor importers, job exporters, ethnic tribalists, and religious hypocrites” is trying to pass a set of “comprehensive” immigration laws that would triple legal immigration during the coming decade by providing 30 million green cards to immigrants while giving “temporary” work permits to at least 15-million guest workers. As CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer responded, “The United Statres needs to focus on getting jobs for U.S. citizens instead of hiring immigrants and making deals with other nations for cheap labor….To me, this is so basic. We obviously should be taking care of our own.”


About the author

Wayne Lutton is editor of The Social Contract.