Friday, April 26, 2013

No one Everyone could've predicted...

...that our glorious corporate overlords (all hail!) pushing for more "skilled" immigration to solve our desperate "skills shortage" were doing so solely in order to keep wages in the STEM sectors low.

A brief excerpt:

If there was a shortage of IT jobs then you'd expect wages to rise, but in fact the team found wages in the field (on average) peaked in 2001 and have remained flat ever since, and in some cases have fallen over the last 14 years. The reason, according to the research, is that overseas workers are being recruited to keep wages low.

The researchers found that the US produces a surfeit of STEM graduates, but only half of them are hired. The rest of the jobs in the IT industry, primarily entry-level positions for the under 30s, are filled using foreign workers and may account for up to 50 per cent of new hires.

"Even our high-end estimate, of 50 percent, is a conservative estimate of the proportion of guestworkers hired," Professor Salzman told The Register. Salzman has spent the last 13 years researching this area of the market and has amassed a large body of evidence to support his claims.

I'm so surprised.

Just to be clear, I'm totally fine with immigration. Let people come here, whether they want to be ag workers, or tech workers. Just don't pretend that a certain kind of immigration is all swell and good and shiny while a darker icky smelly kind of immigration is eleventy times as bad as Hitler.


  1. there are two cohorts they are talking about, STEM careers and IT careers. If anything, IT is a subset of STEM, maybe just an overlap.

    The article isn't very clear on how other STEM careers are faring vs. the more narrow IT definition.

    In any case, you want to talk career destruction and wage depression? Oh my let's go to the construction industry. Jobs can't be outsourced, so let's inflate the balloon and burst in a spray of blood like Pennywise the Clown.

    1. Yeah, I think of IT falling under the T in STEM.

    2. So all the alarum may be true in regards to IT, but other STEM fields are unaddressed.

      Picking of nits, I know. There AREN'T any good fields to go into anymore, unless you can call "scion of privilege" a field.

    3. So all the alarum may be true in regards to IT, but other STEM fields are unaddressed.

      Well yes and no -- they do talk about both, they're just intertwined and a bit more focused on the IT sector. Here's the introduction to the paper referenced in the article (the article is definitely IT biased, The Register is an IT newspaper):


      The strength of the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce and the need to enhance U.S. innovation and productivity are longstanding concerns. A key part of this discussion focuses on whether there is sufficient supply and “quality” in the domestic pool of STEM students and workers, and what might be the most effect- ive policy initiatives to address the range of technology and workforce challenges facing the nation (see, e.g., National Academy of Science 2007). Current immigration bills proposed in Congress include various provisions to increase the supply of guestworkers for STEM employers. Proposals include expanding the current temporary visa programs by increasing the H-1B visa cap and providing permanent residency (green cards) to nonresident foreign students who graduate from a U.S. college in a STEM field.

      The rationale for these provisions is that there is a shortage of STEM workers available domestically. The claim is based primarily on numerous industry statements that employers cannot find sufficient numbers of qualified workers in the domestic labor pool (which comprises both immigrants and natives, citizens and lawful permanent residents). In our research we find that there is no lack of domestic graduates or existing domestic STEM workers to fill available STEM jobs. We undertake an analysis of the best available data on the supply of STEM workers from college and in the labor force. We examine the supply of guestworkers and, because of their concentrated use in the information technology (IT) sector, we examine in detail the wage and employment trends in IT industries and occupations.

      The central issues examined here are: (1) the size of the domestic pool of STEM students and workers; (2) the size of the pool of new and available guestworkers; and (3) trends in the wages and employment of the IT workforce. We examine the evidence on each of these issues, which are central to an evaluation of STEM workforce supply, demand, and employment outcomes. We address the performance and number of students who have the potential to become STEM workers, and the pursuit of STEM studies by college students and the subsequent entry of these students into the workforce. We then turn to characteristics of the STEM workforce and the comparative number of guestworkers in the STEM and, in particular, IT workforces.

      So yeah, there's a focus on IT, but they do address STEM in general as well.


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