December 22, 2005:Needed Skills Or Cheap Labour? (A New Report from the Center For Immigration Studies Shows Again That American Businesses Are Using A Visa Programme To Import Cheap Labour And To Avoid Employing American Workers.)
NEEDED SKILLS OR CHEAP LABOR?
Report: H-1B Workers Paid Less than U.S. Workers, Despite Wage Rules
CONTACT: John Miano, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON (December 2005) — The budget bill was approved by the Senate Wednesday minus a provision that would have added 30,000 visas to the H-1B foreign-worker program. But efforts to increase this visa program are certain to resume next year.
To help inform this debate, the Center for Immigration Studies has published a new analysis of thousands of Labor Department applications which finds that employers are paying H-1B workers less than comparable American workers.
The ''prevailing wage'' requirement for this visa program is designed to prevent the hiring of foreign workers from depressing U.S. wages and to protect foreign workers from exploitation. Instead, the data show that the H-1B program is primarily used to import workers at the very bottom of the wage scale. The wide gap between wages for U.S. workers and H-1B workers helps explain why industry demand for H-1B workers is so high and why the annual visa quotas are being exhausted.
The new study is entitled ''The Bottom of the Pay Scale: Wages for H-1B Computer Programmers,'' by software industry expert John Miano. It compares wages in approved Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) for H-1B workers in computer programming occupations to wage levels of U.S. workers in the same occupation and location. It is on line at http://www.cis.org/articles/2005/back1305.html
Among the findings
* In spite of the requirement that H-1B workers be paid the prevailing wage, H-1B workers earn significantly less than their American counterparts. On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.
* Wages for H-1B workers in computer programming occupations are overwhelmingly concentrated at the bottom of the U.S. pay scale. Wages on LCAs for 85 percent of H-1B workers were for less than the median U.S. wage in the same occupations and state.
* Applications for 47 percent of H-1B computer programming workers were for wages below even the prevailing wage claimed by their employers.
* Very few H-1B workers earned high wages by U.S. standards. Applications for only 4 percent of H-1B workers were among the top 25 percent of wages for U.S. workers in the same state and occupation.
* Many employers use their own salary surveys and wage surveys for entry-level workers, rather than more relevant and objective data sources, to make prevailing-wage claims when hiring H-1B workers.
* Employers of large numbers of H-1B workers tend to pay those workers less than those who hire a few. Employers making applications for more than 100 H-1B workers had wages averaging $9,000 less than employers of one to 10 H-1B workers.
* The problem of low wages for H-1B workers could be addressed with a few relatively simple changes to the law.
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The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.
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