Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Underpayment of H-1B Wages?

Masters degreed H-1B employees earned $400.00 less than those with Bachelors degrees.  These are significant populations of H-1B temporary immigrants, with over 20,000 Masters degrees and over 30,000 bachelors degrees in 2006.

There is still some argument as to the practice of under-paying H-1B workers in Computer-related occupations. Does it exist? Is it pervasive? The following quote is a complicated way of saying 51% of H-1B are in Computer related occupations.

"In 2006, 51% of new H-1B recipients were in computer-related occupations, including 48% in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services occupational category of "occupations in systems analysis and programming," which includes many occupations, such as computer scientist, and technician occupations, such as programmer." http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/c3/tt03-29.htm

The most recent H-1B salary information (I'm aware of) is 2006 data from Homeland Security...

Average annual salary of new recipients of H-1B temporary work visas, by occupation and degree:

H-1B Salaries in Computer-related occupations:
All degree levels = 56,200.00

Bachelor's = 56,000.00
Master's = 55,600.00
Professional = 71,200.00
Doctorate = 80,400.00

SOURCE: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, special tabulations. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/c3/tt03-29.htm

Oddly, we have Masters degree holder earning less than those with Bachelor's degrees.

For comparison, to H-1B salaries I've taken the published Mean Annual wage and created an average mean from all occupations within the BLS-OES 15-1000 Computer Specialists SOC classification. SOC 15-1000 (link) is identical to the DOT classified Computer related occupations (link)

Avg. Mean Annual Salary 2006:

15-1000 Computer Specialists = $69,123.42
Total Employment 2006 = 2,969,510
Total Mean Annual in Dollars = $205,262,675,900.00


Looking back at the H-1B salaries, we see that those H-1Bs with a Master's degree were paid $400.00 less than H-1Bs with Bachelor's degrees. I did the math in an earlier blog which puts the H-1B group (Computer related) with Master's degrees at 25,490 and the Bachelors degrees at 31,862 -- these populations are significant.

BLS Annual Salary 2006:
15-1000 Computer Specialists = $69,123.42 (Avg. Mean all degree levels)

H-1B Computer Specialist = $56,200.00 (Avg. all degree levels)

H-1B Underpayment = $12,923.42

(Yes, I comparing a Avg. Mean to an Average -- perhaps a couple dollars difference?)

Let's assume for a moment that business and government are interested in controlling the salaries of Computer Specialists. Assume, the method is importing lower paid specialists and the target salary is (the H-1B salary) $56,200.00.

This creates a circular problem for the government, the 2006 taxable gross wages for the occupation was $205 Billion. Reducing the salaries to $56,200.00 will reduce the tax base by $38 Billion. Of course to remedy this loss, the government will need to authorize 682,851 computer related visas (23% of the occupation) to recover from the tax loss -- that is "if" everyone else is retained. There is no telling how many foreclosures increasing immigration will cause in our zero growth economy.

Additionally, most of that $38 Billion was disposable income the lubricant for the economy.

2006, 15-1000 Computer Specialists ___ Employed ___ Mean Annual

Computer and Information Scientists, Research 27,650 ___ $96,440
Computer Programmers 396,020 ___ $69,500
Computer Software Engineers, Applications 472,520 ___ $82,000
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software 329,060 ___ $87,250
Computer Support Specialists 514,460 ___ $44,350
Computer Systems Analysts 446,460 ___ $72,230
Database Administrators 109,840 ___ $67,460
Network and Computer Systems Administrators 289,520 ___ $65,260
Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts 203,710 ___ $67,460
Computer Specialists, All Other 180,270 ___ $69,370

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