Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Engineers from India: Filling U.S. tech shortage, or just cheap labor?

"It is simply that foreign workers will work for less."

Engineers from India: Filling U.S. tech shortage, or just cheap labor?

"President Obama backed a bill passed in the Senate in early December which would increase the 65,000 cap on H-1B visas (for engineers from India and other foreign workers) to 115,000," after intense lobbying by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other U.S. tech employers, writes GlobalPost. Big Tech claims there's a shortage of U.S. engineers, programmers and other tech workers. "Yet several researchers say their work contradicts the IT lobby," GlobalPost adds. In fact, in the U.S., "unemployment rates are high for information systems graduates, with 14.7 percent out of work."

This is supply and demand. Comcast, Independence Blue Cross and Unisys are among the Philadelphia-area companies that have outsourced U.S. jobs to cheaper India-based outsource engineering companies, even as tech firms here continue to import foreign engineers to the U.S. "Competition from foreign workers... depresses wages for Americans," the GlobalPost article notes. "The average hourly wage for computer and mathematics graduates was $37.27 in 2000, and $39.24 in 2011 -- an average rise of less than 0.5 percent per year...

"Based on figures from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and Current Population Survey data... 160,755 foreign workers were given H-1B or other work visas for IT jobs in 2011, out of 483,692 jobs that went to candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree," while half of U.S. math, science and engineering grads are not working in their fields, the story added.

“It has nothing to do with any lack of American workers,” Professor Ron Hira of Rochester Institute of Technology told Global Post's James Tapper. “It is simply that the foreign workers will work for less.” Read the Global Post story here.

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
Business Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected