Donate search
close

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • send Email
  • print Print

How The Labor Shortage Shriveled The Border Security Surge

The Department of Homeland Security was directed by President Trump to hire 15,000 new officers two years ago, but the hiring surge has still not begun. Despite the push for more border security, most of the new jobs are going unfilled in a tight labor market.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Customs and Border Protection budgeted $60.7 million to Accenture Federal Services as part of a $297-million contract to recruit, vet and hire 7,500 Border Patrol officers over five years. The headhunting company has only produced 33 new hires so far, however.

The Border Patrol has to hire about 2,700 agents per year to meet Trump’s goal of 26,370 border agents by the end of 2021. So far, the agency has not come close. In 2018, the first time in five years that Border Patrol saw a net gain in staffing, there were 120 new agents. CBP currently has more than 3,000 job vacancies.

Retention has long been a problem at CBP. About 1,380 agents retire, move to other agencies, or quit for better-paying jobs each year. Average starting pay for the demanding and hazardous job of patrolling the border is $40,511 per the Houston Chronicle. More experienced agents can earn up to $80,000 per year.

It will be difficult for CBP to further ramp up hiring since the US is currently experiencing a labor shortage. In December, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, which is typically considered full employment when temporary job changes are considered. Beginning last summer, US businesses had more job openings than people in the workforce to fill them.

“Business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement last July. “These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”

Now the difficulty in finding qualified workers is apparently spreading to the government as well. Federal jobs have long been considered highly desirable positions with competitive pay scales and excellent benefits. As pensions have disappeared in the private sector, they have been retained for government jobs. The CBP website touts a “generous retirement” plan consisting of a “guaranteed lifetime pension, paid to retirees is a percentage of your highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service.” These generous benefits no longer seem to be enough to attract applicants, however.

Ironically, one solution to the current US labor shortage would be to reform immigration laws to allow more legal immigrants to join the US workforce. While recent immigrants could not fill CBP jobs since US citizenship is required, they could be hired by private firms, freeing up more Americans for Border Patrol jobs. The resulting competition in the labor market would also make government jobs and pay scales even more attractive.

However, there is an additional factor that makes government jobs such as CBP even less attractive. During the recent 35-day government shutdown, Border Patrol agents were among the federal workers who were required to work without pay. The prospect of more shutdowns in the future and more irregular pay may not only discourage new applicants but also encourage some current Border Patrol agents to leave for more stable employment.

Once again, circumstances show that the federal government is not immune from market forces. Authorizing 15,000 new Border Patrol agents is not the same as filling those vacancies any more than mandating that all Americans buy health insurance solves the problem of expensive health care.

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • send Email
  • print Print

Advertisement

More Top Stories

Democrats’ Racial Incitements Threaten Philadelphia Police, Not The 2nd Amendment

Philadelphia police attempting to execute a narcotics warrant in a “troubled” neighborhood yesterday got a surprise when a felon with a 12-page rap sheet, including a lengthy prison sentence for f …

Ben Shapiro Misfired

Normally, I’m a fan of Ben Shapiro. He’s a brilliant writer and a staunch conservative. He also (like so much of the conservative puditocracy) has a nasty habit of making unfortunate comme …

Republicans Fret About Trump On Guns

There is a risk for Republicans in doing nothing, but there is also a risk in passing laws that would be unpopular with a large and vocal part of the base.