H-1Bs in 2010

By Don E. Sears  |  Posted 2010-05-27 Print this article Print

eWEEK: What data have you looked at to compare the findings in the University of Maryland study?

I have my own studies, published in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, in which I found a 15-20 percent underpayment for H-1Bs. Other studies, such as the one done at UCLA, have found underpayment of as much as 33 percent. Mithas and Lucas do cite that article of mine, but incorrectly give readers the impression that I only analyze studies done by others, and they don't cite the UCLA study at all.

There are also the two government employer surveys I cited above, the Miano studies (cited but incorrectly analyzed).

eWEEK: The University of Maryland study uses data compiled by technology-publisher Information Week and Hewlitt Associates (a staffing firm) with data from 2000 to 2005. Does this data hold up to statistical scrutiny? Why or why not?

As I stated above, this is simply the wrong population for the question at hand.

eWEEK: In a recent Q&A with the University of Maryland professors, eWEEK asked their opinion on the current visa cap in 2010 on H1-B holders. They responded that -The current quota of 85,000 may be too low because it is almost always fully utilized. We argue in the paper that setting the quota too low may be more harmful than setting it too high because if the economy does not need workers, the quote will go unfilled as has happened before.' Do you have thoughts on this?

Of course the quota is filled during years where there is substantial hiring.  If someone sells new Ferraris at $10,000 each, with a quota of 1,000 cars, of course that quota will be fully utilized! That would be a bargain for Ferraris, and H-1Bs are a bargain for employers too.

One very important point is that employers save money by hiring H-1Bs in two ways, what I call Type I and Type II. Type I is the one always mentioned, in which employers pay H-1Bs less than comparable Americans. But in Type II, the employers save money by hiring younger (thus cheaper) H-1Bs in lieu of older (thus more expensive) Americans. In my writings, I've emphasized that Type II is just as important as Type I.

eWEEK: What is your view of the H-1B visa program in 2010? Is there value in having skilled technical professionals brought in on visas from other countries to help U.S. companies?

I have always strongly supported bringing in "the best and the brightest" from around the world, and facilitating their work visas and green cards. But the vast majority of H-1Bs are not in that league; they are ordinary people, doing ordinary work--and doing so more cheaply than Americans. It is absurd that there are so many H-1B hires when qualified Americans cannot find IT work and must change professions.


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