Compete America: H1B Limits Cost American Jobs04 Apr 2014
A recent article in Computerworld points to some startling statistics on the opportunity costs of not hiring more H1B workers. It cites research from Compete America – a coalition of corporations, universities, research institutions, and trade associations – arguing that “Congress’s failure to raise the cap on H1B visas is costing the U.S. an opportunity to create a new job every 43 seconds.” [See H1B Visas Produce Net IT Job Boost, Trade Group Says, by Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, 19.Mar.2014.]
To drive home its point, Compete America’s WebSite has added an odometer-like counter, toting up the jobs lost because Congress has refused to push ahead with immigration reforms – such as a long-overdue increase in the H1B cap, still pegged at 85,000 H1Bs per year – including 20,000 in the master’s degree category. [See Jobs-Clock Backgrounder, by Matthew J. Slaughter, Compete America, 26.Mar.2014.]
According to Compete America, our nation loses more than 500,000 jobs per year, simply because H1B limits haven’t kept pace with the needs of our high-tech industries. If we want an innovation economy, says Matthew Slaughter of Compete America, we should provide these industries with the STEM talent they need to remain competitive. Mr. Slaughter squarely confronts critics of the H1B program, who see it as a losing gambit for American-born workers in a zero-sum competition for scarce jobs. Nonsense, says Mr. Slaughter; the evidence shows exactly the opposite: “Skilled immigrants do not take slices of a fixed pie away from native-born workers. Rather, they make the pie bigger.”
High-skill immigration not only helps our economy in the aggregate, it also benefits U.S. workers, Mr. Slaughter points out, because, “…hiring talented immigrants spurs hiring additional U.S. workers elsewhere in the U.S. economy.” We need not take his word for it alone; none other than Bill Gates made a similar point, in testifying before Congress, that for every immigrant tech worker hired, five more U.S. jobs are created.
Compete America estimates that 100,000 more H1Bs would be hired in the U.S. this year if the cap were expanded to meet market demand; because an outdated cap remains in place, those jobs are lost, along with 400,000 additional jobs that would have been created for U.S. employees and suppliers, based on their conservative estimates of the multiplier effect.
As we noted recently, there is mounting evidence that inaction on comprehensive immigration reform is actually harming our economy, whether you consider foregone tax revenues or job creation that hasn’t happened. [See Center for American Progress: Opportunity Costs Mounting for Inaction on CIR, MurthyBlog, 20.Mar.2014.] These opportunity costs are real and quantifiable, and the longer Congress waits, the higher these costs will go. We truly can’t afford to wait any longer!
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