Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Gets Mad Love from the Arizona Republic

Page 3 of 3

The employer sanctions law, HB 2779, passed its final votes in the state Senate and the state House on June 20, 2007. Governor Janet Napolitano signed it on July 2, 2007. The law went into effect January 1, 2008.

The Arizona Department of Administration's Office of Employment and Population Statistics issues monthly news releases giving an analysis of employment and unemployment.

According to an archive of these, in July of 2007, Arizona's nonfarm payroll employment was at 2,671,500, slightly down from 2,690,300 in June.

In August of 2007, there was a slight uptick to 2,708,400, a 1.4 percent monthly gain, which the report said was "largely due to the start of the academic year."

What happened when the law went into effect in January of 2008? Nonfarm payroll employment dipped 1.7 percent from the previous month to 2,647,100. In February of 2008, it was a percentage up at 2,672,400.

But Arizona's unemployment rate was on the rise, as the state's economy was shrinking.

According to the chart below from the ADA's AZSTATS.GOV, in June and July of 2007, the unemployment rate was hanging steady at 3.5 percent. Then it began a climb in August that did not cease until peaking at 10.8 percent in January of 2010.

I would not be so simplistic as to suggest that Arizona's rising unemployment rate was due to Pearce's employer sanctions law. But Pearce is implying that the economy got better after employer sanctions passed, and that is clearly not the case.

Indeed, in a 2012 policy analysis from the libertarian Cato Institute looking at the economic effects of both the employer sanctions law and Senate Bill 1070, Cato's Alex Nowrasteh concludes that both laws hurt Arizona's economy.

Nowrasteh finds that the employer sanctions law and Sheriff Joe Arpaio's raids intimidated businesses, with some choosing not to expand or locate in Arizona as a consequence, and some simply closing their doors.

Additionally, Nowrasteh concludes that Arizona's recession and its housing bust were worse because of its policy of trying to make illegal immigrants self-deport.

He writes:

"By January 2011, the number of unauthorized immigrants in Arizona decreased by 200,000, a large 35.7 percent decline, due largely to Arizona's immigration laws. Upon leaving Arizona, these immigrants took their labor, businesses, purchasing power, and housing demand with them. As a result, Arizona's economy suffered."

And no, they did not "self-deport" to Mexico. They merely moved to states friendlier to their work ethic.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons