Can Jobs be Stolen ?

The immigration conundrum has been at the center of all political campaigning in the recent past. Voters in all developed countries from Europe, United States, and even Singapore are voting for stronger immigration laws. There is an inherent feeling amongst them that they are being robbed of something they deserve by these immigrations. The winning candidates like Donald Trump are continuously reassuring immigrants that their beliefs are right and that immigrants are indeed harming them. In this article, we will have a look at the question whether jobs can really be stolen!

Jobs are not Property

The definition of theft is when a person takes something which is the property of another. Jobs are not property. Jobs cannot be passed on to generations or given to another people. They are simple agreements between the employer and the employee. Both parties have the right to terminate the agreement as they see fit. Neither party is obliged to carry it on for a lifetime. As such jobs cannot really be stolen because they are not property in the first place. If an employee has the right to leave an employer and search for better prospects, the employer has an equal right to look for an employee that can provide the best productivity at the cheapest cost.

Free Market Rules

The outsourcing or offshoring of jobs is just a simple consequence of the free market rules that apply to the new world. Production and even back-office jobs can happen all over the world. The employers thus have all the incentive in the world to locate their offices where they can accomplish these tasks in the cheapest ways. Americans are also beneficiaries of these free market arrangements when they buy goods which are extremely low priced. The question of job stealing is not raised by consumers who are looking for the lowest bargain. Until there is a market for these lower priced goods, there will be corporations who will compete to fulfill the needs of this market, and the so-called job stealing will continue.

Yesterday’s Problem

American President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked China for stealing American jobs. However, it seems like he is abreast of the actual situation now. Corporations are leaving China as fast as they left America. These corporations are not attached to any country. Their only motive is profit. As long as they got get cheap labor in China by paying $1 per day, they would hire people and shift factories to China. However, a lot of jobs started coming to China. As such the middle class became wealthy. Today, Chinese labor costs at least $3 per day. Companies find this to be an expensive affair. Hence, once again they have deserted Shanghai as quickly as they deserted Michigan. The production has now been moved to lower cost Asian countries bordering China. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are seeing a rapid influx of the so called stolen jobs. Chinese therefore believe that Donald Trump is solving yesterday’s problem. Today the Chinese are not stealing jobs. In fact, they are the ones whose jobs are also getting stolen.

Not Competing for the Same Job

There is an argument often cited to protect immigration. The argument states that the immigrants and local people are not really competing for the same jobs because they have complimentary skill sets. Immigrants are found either at the extreme low or extremely high end of the job market. The middle market still belongs to the American population. Immigration data often shows that the jobs taken by immigrants are few and far off. Also, they are either menial jobs which require no skills or very high-level jobs which require a unique skill set. Hence, Americans do not seem to be competing against immigrants! Rather, the skill sets are complimentary.

If one analyse, the H1B visa data, this myth can be debunked. The majority of the workers that come over on these visas get salaries which are close to $65000. This is very close to the median American Salary. Hence, the corporations are not importing the best and the brightest as they often claim to mislead the general population. Instead, they are importing mediocre people with mediocre skill sets. The problem is that America has its own share of mediocre people and needs to employ them first!

Americans and immigrants are therefore usually competing for the same jobs. The immigrants have an unfair cost advantage because they can afford to work at a lower wage.

Can be Exported

It may not be possible to steal other people’s jobs. However, typically jobs can be exported to other countries. This is what has been happening for the past two decades or so and goes by the name “outsourcing”. However, government restrictions are not capable of restricting the movement of labor. As long as there are willing workers and employers, remote working technology is increasingly making the impossible possible!

To sum it up, jobs aren’t anyone’s property that can be stolen. They are a simple agreement that can be broken when a better alternative is available. Hence, the only way to stay competitive is to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.


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