Mexican migrants in the U.S. are considered ad hoc for jobs in adverse conditions

Mexican migrants in the U.S. participate in the service sector, manufacturing, commerce, and food and beverage preparation.

Mexican migrants in the U.S. are considered ad hoc for jobs in adverse conditions
In the U.S., Mexican migrants are considered ad hoc for jobs in adverse conditions. Photo: UNAM

Mexicans who travel to the United States to work in search of better living conditions generally do so in the most disadvantaged sectors, with low wages, little or no social benefits, and great exploitation, because they are not considered qualified employees, said Patricia Pozos Rivera, a researcher at UNAM's Institute of Economic Research (IIEc).

From 1990 to 2020 they diversified their activities because from concentrating three decades ago basically in the agricultural sector, they have now expanded to the cities, where they work mostly in the construction sector, mining and machinery manufacturing (especially oil and gas), restaurants and other food services work in buildings and homes, schools and car washing.

"They continue to do what they call in the United States the 3Ds: dirty, dangerous, and difficult," she said.

Pozos Rivera gave the lecture "Productive Restructuring and its Effect on the Structure of the U.S. Labor Market 1990-2020," as part of the Institute's Roundtable Series 2022: Research Work.

In the event in hybrid format, held in the IIEc's Videoconference Room, the economist detailed that up to 2020, 5.15 percent of Mexican migrants, especially young people, were concentrated in the primary sector of the economy, participating in crop and animal production; hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Meanwhile, 25.89 percent were located in the secondary sector, basically in construction, manufacturing of plastic products, as well as slaughtering and processing of animals. And 68.96 percent are in the tertiary sector. In these jobs, some strategies offer flexibility for the worker, the expert highlighted.

"From these strategies that seek flexibility in various fields and levels, new forms of employment emerge. For some of them, migrant workers (mostly Mexicans) are ad hoc workers, for example, for temporary work, home-based work, telecommuting, part-time employment, and workers in applications," she noted.

Undocumented migrants are considered an unskilled labor force. However, they are critical to the U.S. economy.

It is essential to understand the economic crisis of the 1970s in the United States to understand the current consequences of the labor market. The productive sphere must be analyzed to explain labor migration from Mexico to its northern neighbor.

The introduction of increasingly participatory technology in productive activities has succeeded in expelling workers and intensifying exploitation. Migrants must have better salaries since current conditions favor the precariousness of the market.