Who Really Cooked the Numbers?
April 02, 2009, 08:24 PM
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Carl Bialik writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The recipients of U.S. visas for specialized job functions are a small blip in the overall employment market. But they've taken on great symbolic importance in the past year.

With the filing period for employers beginning April 1, immigration advocates argue that granting more H-1B visas to foreign nationals creates jobs for Americans. Critics dispute that notion and say that financial firms receiving bailout funds have been hiring foreign workers while laying off tens of thousands of Americans. Both sides are playing fast and loose with the numbers.[Work Visa Numbers Get Squishy-and Get Played, March 31, 2009]

The advocates of H-1b expansion have enormous resources to analyze every aspect of skilled labor immigration and include some of the wealthiest people in the world, the most powerful CEO's, the Federal Reserve and leaders of major foundations and research institutions that are heavy direct and indirect users of H-1b and related visas. H-1b skeptics have virtually no such resources. Why did guest worker expansion advocates create a set of policies with such poor tracking and reporting in place?

"H-1b" has become a popular "generic" label for skilled guest worker visas. There is a complex alphabet soup of related visas including L-1 visas. Both sides are flying blind because of the policies H-1b advocates cavalierly instituted. We just don't know things like just how many H-1b and related visas are used in each publicly traded company and how this relates to their financial performance, hiring and criminal convictions in those companies. You will find far more support for honest and expanded reporting among H-1b skeptics than H-1b advocates.

There has been no lasting improvement in the US stock market or the employment situation of Americans since H-1b expansion. Skilled guest worker expansion is far more than a blip in the most impacted industries.