There are jobs that Americans won’t do.
That’s the rationale for importing millions of impoverished helots to pick the fruit, mow the lawns, and mind the pampered children of America.
Presumably there are also jobs that Spaniards won’t do. Or there used to be, anyway, before the advent of hard times.
Up until recently the Spanish relied on migrants from Morocco as agricultural laborers during harvest time. But, like the United States, Spain had its own real estate bubble, and it has now burst, pulling the rug out from under the Spanish economy. There are more than three million unemployed workers in Spain, 13% of the work force, and their numbers are expected to increase all the way through 2009.
As a result, there have been some second thoughts about which jobs Spaniards won’t do. According to ANSAmed:
Spain: Bitter Olives for Immigrants in Andalusia
by Francesco Cerri
MADRID, DECEMBER 12 — In the fields of Andalusia, thousands of immigrants attracted to Spain with hopes of collecting the crumbs of the economic boom that has taken place over the past decade have become entangled in the recession that has struck the Iberian country.
At least 2,000 immigrants, mainly Africans, many without legal stay permits, have been roaming the countryside over the past days from one village to another in the Jaen region between Cordoba and Granada, hoping to participate as in past years in the olive harvest. But this year it is entirely different. The crisis, particularly the bursting real estate ‘bubble’ which until now had been the motor to the Spanish economy, has changed fortunes.
Unemployment has skyrocketed, hitting 3 million people. And the Spanish, reports the press in Madrid, have returned to the fields, taking back the most humble jobs abandoned and left for immigrants in the past years.
Among these is ‘l’Aceituna’, the olive harvest in Jaen, an area that produces one-third of the olive oil in the world. “With the crisis, the unemployed in the building sector have resumed working in the fields this year” confirmed the Mayor of Ubeda, in the heart of the olive groves of Jaen, Marcelino Sanchez, socialist, like most of the local politicians in Andalusia.
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More than 15,000 unemployed workers from Andalusia signed up to participate in the olive harvest. The small town, which normally welcomes 145 seasonal workers every year for the olive harvest, is no longer able to deal with the influx of over 500 desperate African workers.
The mayor decided to allow the immigrants who have been travelling around Ubeda to sleep in the local sports arena. And the local aid structures for the poor are preparing 700 meals per evening. In other cities in the area the situation is the same.
Ads published in El Pais over the past few weeks stating that the regions of Andalusia did not need temporary workers and that lists for the olive harvest were already full did not help the situation. In Ubeda and in the other cities, posters in French, Spanish, and Arabic explained that “this year no workers are needed” and free bus tickets were available “to go back to their normal residencies”. But the rain delayed work in the fields. And many remained with hopes of finding something sooner of later.
In a few weeks the desperate caravan in Jaen will move to Huelva, on the border with Portugal, where in February the strawberry harvest will begin. But there they will probably be replaced by unemployed people from Spain.
Here in the USA our unemployment problems are only just getting started. The jobless rate will reach 7% by the end of the year, and by this time next year it will be at 9% or 10%. That’s not much by European standards, but we haven’t seen anything like it here since Jimmy Carter was president, and it may get even worse than that.
So will persons of American background start mowing lawns and digging ditches again? How bad will it have to get before Americans start doing jobs Americans won’t do?
Hat tip: Insubria.