|Low Supply of High Tech Workers|
|Subject||Comparative statics, immigration|
|Key Words||Visas, job growth, productivity, work, shortage, workers, training, salary, labor, prevailing wage, employer|
There is a debate about whether Congress should increase the number of temporary H-1B visas from 115,000 to 200,000 so that more workers from overseas can work in the U.S.
One side argues that, although the economy is cruising along with high job growth and productivity increases, it is endangered by a shortage of high-tech workers that will make it harder for the U.S. to compete internationally. The year's cap on H-1B visas was reached as early as March 21. Many workers are nearing the end of the six years allowed by the visas and will have to leave the U.S. unless they can obtain green cards. Foreign workers have been instrumental in founding high-tech companies such as Sun Microsystems and developing software like Java, and have thereby generated large numbers of jobs for Americans. Educating and training Americans will only remedy the problem in the long run. In the short run, it is argued that high-tech businesses need more H-1B visas or else some work will go overseas.
The counterargument is that there is no shortage of high-tech workers. If there was, salary levels would be rising faster, and applicants would find jobs more quickly. It is alleged that high-tech firms simply want to hire cheaper labor from abroad. While the prevailing wage has to be paid, it is up to the employer to decide what that is. Thus, American International Group (AIG) replaced its programming staff with lower-paid foreign workers.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
|Source||Scott McNealy and John Miano, "Do high-tech firms really need imported workers?" USA Today, September 21, 2000.|
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