Millennium Post

‘H-1B’ Indian techies create many more US jobs than they snatch

Challenging the assertion of several American lawmakers that H-1B visas grabbed by Indian IT professionals eat into their employment market, a new study by an eminent US think-tank has said that contrary to such perception, Indian techies create jobs in the country.

The report by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) said contrary to the popular perception, India-based companies do not use up most of the yearly H-1B allotment.

Between fiscal 2006 and 2011, the top 25 India-based companies utilised between six and 15 per cent of the new H-1B visa approved for initial employment, and 19.9 per cent in fiscal 2012.

In fiscal 2012, the 26,865 new H-1B visas approved for the top 25 India-based companies equaled only 0.017 per cent of the US labor force. Many of these companies perform services under contract to assist US companies in focusing on core business functions, it said.

'Research indicates measures to restrict the use of H-1B visas are not based on sound evidence and would represent a serious policy mistake that would shift more work and resources outside the United States,' said the report's author Stuart Anderson, NFAP's executive director.

Rather than harming US workers or the US economy, H-1B visa holders contributed 'between 10 and 25 per cent of the aggregate productivity growth... that took place in the United States from 1990 to 2010,' according to economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih and Chad Sparber.

Peri, Shih and Sparber also found, 'An increase in foreign STEM workers of 1 per cent of total employment increased the wage of native college educated workers (both STEM and non-STEM) over the period 1990-2000 by 4 to 6 per cent.'

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Economist Madeline Zavodny concluded that between 2001 and 2010, each additional 100 approved H-1B workers were associated with an additional 183 jobs among US natives.

A propsoed immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate suggests overhauling the H-1B visa system to end its use in outsourcing Americans jobs to countries like India.  A recent Government Accountability Office found the median salary for H-1B visa holders age 20-39 was $80,000 compared to $75,000 for US workers in Electrical/ Electronics Engineering, and $ 60,000 for H-1B professionals age 20-29 in Systems Analysis/Programming vs $58,000 for US workers.

Other studies, including by University of Maryland economists Sunil Mithas and Henry C Lucas Jr., find H-1B professionals in information technology (IT) earned more than their native counterparts with similar experience and do not harm the prospects of US-born workers, it said.

The report said rather than harming US students, as some contend, a large proportion of the approximately $4 billion in government fees paid by employers since 1999 for H-1B visa holders have provided over 63,000 scholarships for US students in science and technology fields, according to the National Science Foundation.

'A key part of the next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers, the children of H-1B visa holders accounted for 60 per cent of the finalists at the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition for top high school students,' it said.
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