Diana Furchtgott-Roth Wants H1-B`s To Move Into All Those Foreclosed Houses
October 23, 2008, 05:30 PM
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Forbes magazine published one of the worst op-ed editorials I have seen in at least a month or two; maybe all year! There are too many things wrong with this editorial to discuss in one newsletter so I have chosen two of the worst ones to debunk.

It almost seems that the author did nothing more than copy and paste random talking points from a Compete America position paper, but she goes a step further by stating that the current housing crisis could be mitigated by letting more H-1Bs into the U.S.:

America's financial markets and economy won't fully recover until the slide in the housing market is stopped. Selling homes to skilled immigrants would not solve all our housing woes, but it would be a step in the right direction—without an additional penny needed from Uncle Sam.[Houses For Sale—To Immigrants Diana Furchtgott-Roth 10.20.08]
In case you are wondering what kind of bonehead would make such an absurd statement; it was written by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, [Send her mail]]who in the past did stints as Chief of Staff of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers and as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. If that isn't enough to explain her faux pas here is one more: she is listed in a book called 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America& , by Jack Huberman.

Replacing American workers with H-1Bs accomplishes nothing more than evicting an American family out of a house so that a new foreign worker can buy a cheap foreclosure. Destroying jobs and wrecking our skilled domestic labor force exacerbates the housing and banking crisis instead of making the situation better. Following Furchtgott-Roth's logic, we could solve the entire housing crisis by allowing unlimited numbers of skilled foreign workers into the U.S.

Even considering Furchtgott-Roth's dubious titles as economist and analyst there is no excuse for this fallacy of logic:

This figure [number of H-1Bs in the U.S.] represents a minuscule portion of the American labor force of 155 million. Even if green card and H-1B quotas were raised to 750,000, that would be only less than half of 1% of the labor force. A higher quota would still block admission to the majority of applicants, who are discouraged from applying due to the small likelihood of success.
Furchtgott-Roth seems to be using the BLS statistic of 155 million to estimate the total American labor force. It's a suspicious number to use for her calculations because the entire population of the United States is about 305 million. Does anybody seriously think that one out of every two Americans is participating in the labor market, and that each of them is potentially affected by the H-1B visa program?

She minimizes the effect of H-1B by comparing the total number of H-1Bs with the entire U.S. labor force of 155 million workers. That's a red herring because H-1B doesn't impact the entire American workforce in proportion to its deleterious affects on workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEMS). It's unclear whether she is advocating a cap of 750,000 for both H-1B visas and green cards combined, or separately, but the affect is hardly miniscule. Half of 1% is a gross underestimate—the correct percentage would be more like 15% to 30%.

FACT CHECK: H-1B visa holders already hold about 16% to 32% of the total number of STEM jobs and that doesn't include the large number of employment based (EB) green cards. If Furchtgott-Roth got her way those percentages would go way up. Estimates of the number of STEMs vary — the NSF says there are about 5 million but it varies depending on the definition of STEM worker. There are about 800,000 H-1B visa holders currently employed in the U.S. although some estimates are as low as 330,000.

Important Links

To read more about the effects of H-1B on the STEM labor force, go to page 71 of  On The Need For Reform Of The H-1B Non-Immigrant Work Visa In Computer-Related Occupations, by Norm Matloff. [PDF]

For more statistics on the number of STEMs, read "U.S. S&E Labor Force Profile", by the NSF.

For statistics on the number of H-1Bs, read H-1B Temporary Workers: Estimating the Population by B. Lindsay Lowell [PDF]

For labor force numbers read, "Employment Situation Summary", by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You can also click the links on the left part of this page:jobdestruction.info/ShameH1B: