Mexican President Vicente Fox recently said in an interview to the BBC that in ten years the United States will be asking Mexico for laborers. At first you might be thinking that this would never happen, but it already has. From 1942 to 1964 the Bracero Program allowed Mexicans to come to the United States to work in the agricultural fields and other industries. During this time the United States saw one of its biggest economic growths. And recently in the 1990’s the United States found itself in a technological boom without enough qualified workers to fill available positions so hundreds of thousands of Indian techies came to the United States on H1 Work Visas.
Maybe President Fox is right and the United States will ask neighbor nations for workers. The truth is that the United States can’t compete with the cheap labor of China and India without migrant workers. Most of the American manufacturing jobs, union jobs, have already left the country and have gone off shore. If cheap labor in China wasn’t enough the United States has a huge trade deficit with countries such as Japan and China; this is why the United States has tried to establish trade accords like NAFTA with Mexico and other Latin American countries such as Colombia. These free trade agreements mostly benefit the American economy. Latin American companies don’t have the same level of access into the American market as do American companies such as Wal-Mart that have sprung up across Mexico.
The Friday, March 3rd edition of The Wall Street Journal reported that thanks to Mexican shoppers there is a retail boom on the Texas border where middle class Mexican do day trips to shop for items not readily found in Mexico. From the article:
La Plaza [Mall of McAllen] generates monthly sales well over $450 a square foot, compared with a national mall average of $392…
In the past 10 years, retal sales in McAllen have risen more than 75%, nearly double the nationwide pace of 40%. Per-capita sales here are twice the national average, according to the census…
The reason: Mexican shoppers, both rich and poor, are pouring into the area, making it the equivalent of Madison Avenue for northern Mexico’s consumer class.
So maybe in ten years we will ask Mexico and other neighbor nations for guest workers so as to continue to grow our economy.