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The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage: How Guest Workers Lower US Wages

Posted on 06-Sep-2013
Topics: Effects of Immigration on American Workers  

From PBS:

A battle rages in economic policy circles: Should America make its borders more open to high-tech guest workers, or should we batten the hatches? Even those who oppose totally open immigration often support temporary guest worker visas, known as H-1B work visas, for high-tech.

But some oppose them, arguing that -- as in other industries -- workers from abroad undercut the wages of those domestic workers who would otherwise do the jobs here in America.


Our analysis of the data finds that high-skill guest worker programs supply the preponderance of all new hires for the IT industry. The inflow of guest workers is equal to half of all IT hires each year and fully two-thirds of annual hires of workers younger than 30.

Can it be a coincidence that wages in IT jobs have been stagnant for over a decade?


Currently, U.S. colleges graduate far more scientists and engineers than find employment in those fields every year -- about 200,000 more -- while the IT industry fills about two-thirds of its entry-level positions with guest workers.

At the same time, IT wages have stagnated for over a decade. We cannot expect to build a strong STEM workforce and encourage domestic innovation by developing policies that undermine the quality of STEM jobs. Before asking government to intervene in labor markets by handing out more guest worker visas and green cards to STEM graduates, we should ask for audits of shortage claims and workforce impacts as a first step toward developing evidence-based policy on this issue, an issue critical to the nation's future.

Asking domestic graduates, both native-born and immigrant, to compete with guest workers on wages is not a winning strategy for strengthening U.S. science, technology and innovation.

View the original article for graphs and more data.


[1] "The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage: How Guest Workers Lower US Wages", Hal Salzman, B. Lindsay Lowell and Daniel Kuehn, 24-July-2013

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