Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mammy's Little Baby Loves Quesadillas...,

nakedcapitalism |  In our last post on “illegals,” we looked at the odd refusal, by the press, to call the capitalist employers of illegal migrants “illegals.” Today, I want to work out a similar kink in the discourse by looking at the nannies who are employed by the professional class on up (that is, by the 0.1% and the 9.9%). The supply chain and labor market for migrants, illegal or not, is insanely complicated, and so I’m only going to look at nannies, and not at yard men, construction workers, restaurant workers, factory workers, etc. The complexity also makes solid numbers hard to come by. But there are generalizations that we can make, as we shall see. After making those generalizations, we’ll conclude with some telling anecdotes.

“Nannies” were first weaponized in political discourse during the Clinton administration (as retrospectively we might expect, since Clinton represented and embodied the then fresh ascendancy of the professional classes (the 9.9%) in the Democrat Party). “NannyGate” derailed Clinton’s nominations of corporate lawyer Zoë Baird and Federal Judge Kimba Wood for Attorney General, Baird because she employed an illegal migrant after it was illegal to employ them and didn’t pay the nanny’s taxes, Wood because she employed an illegal migrant even though when she did it was legal to do so. “The Nannygate matter caused wealthy Americans to ask each other if they too had a ‘Zoë Baird problem’, as the hiring of illegal aliens and the paying of household help off the books were both commonplace.” And so — speculating freely — we have solved that potential optics problem with the ubiquituous nanny brokers (“agencies”) of today, chat boards that share tips for explain the risks of hiring nannies, all of which are filled with “I don’t, but I have heard that others do” comments. 

As far as the class angle goes, the median hourly wage for all nannies in the United States is $14.59 an hour (in New York, $17.63). The median hourly wage (pause for toothgrinding calculation) for all occupations is $18.12. Taking income as a proxy for class, and assuming that being a nanny is a full time job, it seems reasonable to conclude that the working class (the 90%) isn’t hiring nannies (except perhaps for labor aristocrats)[1]. That means that the labor market for nannies is made by the 9.9% and the 0.1%; they are the ones doing the hiring.

So let’s take a look at that labor market. It would not be fair to say that all, or even most, nannies are illegal migrants. (The illegality comes in at another angle, which I’ll get to.) From GTM Payroll Services in 2015, and taking “maids and housekeepers” as a proxy for nannies:
According to a Pew Research Center study published last year, there were 8.1 million unauthorized immigrants either working or looking for work in 2012. The study also shows that the largest number of unauthorized immigrant workers are found in service occupations, which include maids, cooks, or groundskeepers. In fact, maids and housekeepers account for 25% of undocumented workers within those occupations. These employees make up a critical part of our economy.
We have no numbers for nannies hired illegally by the 0.1%, but we do have telling anecdotes, as of this from Hollywood actress and producer Amber Heard. (The median yearly salary for a Hollywood produder is “just $66,121.”) From TMZ:
The actress took to Twitter just after midnight on Tuesday and said, “Just heard there’s an ICE checkpoint in [H]ollywood, a few blocks from where I live. Everyone better give their housekeepers, nannies and landscapers a ride home tonight.”
“Everyone,” eh? Some in the 0.1% (those who don’t hire elite nannies) might actually prefer hiring nannies illegally, since that gives them more leverage. Reading between the lines: