Take for example Hiawatha Bray. He wrote a moronic article for the Boston Globe on January 1st titled: "Demand lagging among tech firms for H1-B visas". Bray attempted to make a case that the U.S. job market is good in high-tech industries, therefore the H-1B program is not a threat to those who are seeking jobs.
Bray wrote that the demand for American workers is up because the demand for foreign workers on H-1B visas is down. He doesn't seem to consider the possibility that demand for all workers (both for H-1Bs and domestic) is down because the labor market is still saturated. His flawed assumptions are based on the following factoid:
But as of two weeks ago, officials reported that 11,100 visas, nearly one-fifth of the total, were still available.So Bray was staring at the same data I have recently written about, but then went on to declare that the U.S. is creating large numbers of new high-tech jobs:
The economic research firm Moodyâ€™s Analytics says that employment at US high-tech companies increased by 47,000 jobs between January and November. By contrast, the sector lost 46,000 jobs in 2008, and 196,000 in 2009.Bray's statistics are approximately correct but he comes to the wrong conclusions because he didn't consider the supply of workers. Creating 47,000 high-tech jobs in the U.S. over a period of a year is hardly something to cheer about and it tells only half the story. In 2010 while 47,000 jobs were created, 70,000 new H-1B petitions were granted and they are now flooding the labor market. To put it in simple terms, there were more H-1Bs coming into the U.S. than jobs created.(Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And the Globe has a comment system, if you want to express your opinion that way.)
So just how bad is the high-tech job situation? Assuming that Bray's statistic about jobs created is accurate, and using it to calculate how many excess workers there are yields this result:
For starters 70,000 - 47,000 = 23,000 more H-1Bs than jobs created
Unfortunately the situation is far worse than that!
The 47,000 number is only a count of NEW petitions. There will be at least 50% more H-1Bs that are granted extensions to work another 3 years and there are a few other non-exempt categories that are not counted towards the yearly cap. So conservatively at least 120,000 H-1Bs will be authorized to work in the U.S. in fiscal year 2010.
H-1B isn't the only visa to be concerned with, however. If 2010 was anything like the last several years the H-1B count will still be very high, and compounding the problem is the fact that H-1B isn't the only visa used to import foreign workers. Several other visa categories are used in much the same way as the H-1B program. The following formula shows what happens when the other visas that are included in the calculation. This is how the math comes out:
120,000 H-1B 80,000Â L-1 4,000Â Trade NAFTA (TN) 80,000 EB-1 green cards 80,000 EB-3 green cards ——- 364,000 Total employment based visas used like H-1BsFor more information on these visas see my published article available online: The Most Generous Nation in the World ...at Giving Jobs Away, Winter 2009.
Bray could almost be forgiven for not considering other visas besides H-1B although a writer of his experience should know better. However the math is done it's not logically possible to assert that American companies have suddenly turned into patriots that are shunning H-1B workers in order to hire flag waving Americans.
The best Bray could do to prove his point was to point at this paltry bit of anecdotal evidence:
Russ Campanello, senior vice president of human resources at iRobot Corp., a Bedford maker of robots for consumers and the US military, said his companyâ€™s workforce is growing.The next quote in Bray's article contains some rather obvious doublespeak: on the one hand a manager at a body shop claims that the job market for technical workers is booming, but on the other hand he says that there are so many domestic workers looking for jobs it's easy to fill them without using H-1B visa holders. Since when is a job market flooded with unemployed workers considered to be a robust labor market where workers are in high demand?
â€?Globally, weâ€™ve probably hired close to 200 people this year, probably the bulk of them in the US,â€™â€™ Campanello said.
Steve Kasmouski, general manager of the software engineering placement group at The Winter, Wyman Cos., a Waltham employment agency, said he was surprised by the sluggish call for H-1B visas because he sees such strong demand for technically skilled workers.I sent Hiawatha Bray an email asking him how he could make the claim that the job market for American high-tech workers is improving when there is such an obvious discrepancy between the number of visas issued and the number of jobs created. So far I haven't received an answer.
â€?Iâ€™ve got 200 openings to fill, with a staff of 10 people,â€™â€™ Kasmouski said. â€?Itâ€™s like drinking from a fire hose.â€™â€™
Kasmouski said employers are probably looking to the domestic labor force because so many tech workers lost their jobs during the recession. This has made it easier for companies to find workers, which eliminates the expense of applying for H-1B visas and relocating foreign workers to the United States.