Thursday, January 5, 2012

Radical Conservative Immigration Policy

“Each 100 H-1B Initial Employment Approvals are associated with 90 job losses for ‘Natives’ from 2001 to 2010.”

We have yet another “study” of immigrants in the United States workforce, this one associates different classes of immigrants with employment creation for “natives”.  The study is short on definitions, does not include a list of assumptions and does not include data, but heck let’s just take the author’s word that all is correct and good.

Today’s Featured Study:



Written by:  Madeline Zavodny


While the country teeters on the edge of a double dip recession, let’s plug-in some numbers into the formulas that the “conservative” think tanks are promoting as an employment growth solution.  Our goal here is to reduce the Current U-6 Underutilization Rate by 33%, thus creating 8 million jobs for “natives” by allowing more immigration as Ms. Zavodny suggests.

I present “What if” scenario CASE 1: and CASE 2: for creating 8 million jobs for “Natives” as per Zavodny’s policy recommendation.


Zavodny: “Every additional 100 foreign-born workers with an advanced
degree created an additional 44 jobs for US natives.”


In the table above we see that adding 18 million new persons with advanced degrees to the labor force “might” bring the Unemployment rate down to levels that are considered “full employment”. 

On the other hand, if Zavodny’s conclusions are wrong and the economy does not create 26 million new jobs as a result of adding these immigrants, the Headline Unemployment rate (U-3) would climb to 18.3% and the United States would be stuck with 18 million more people to house, clothe and feed.  This would be some pretty high-stakes policy poker.



Zavodny: “Every additional 100 foreign-born workers who earned
an advanced degree in the US and then worked in
STEM fields created an additional 262 jobs for US natives.”


The chart above is a bit more conservative with 2.62 native jobs created for every immigrant with a US advanced STEM degree.  In this case we only need to bring in about 3 million immigrants and dedicate 100% of the science curriculum to STEM disciplines – AND -- dedicate all of the NCES advanced degree programs to immigrants for the next 10 years. 


The STEM occupations employ about 7.6 million persons, but only 1.8 million in the STEM occupations have an advanced degree.  Another 3.3 million STEM workers have bachelor’s degrees and about 2.4 million have some college, an associate degree or less. Adding 3 million immigrants to a population which is now only 1.8 million -- might tend to affect wages a little bit.

If the Zavodny Formula for STEM workers were to fail and these new immigrants were to engage in an employment bidding war to remain employed in the United States, the likely result would be another spate of housing foreclosures.   The Census homeownership rate is currently 66.3%, STEM is a well paying field, so failure of this Zavodny Formula could cause slightly more than 2.2 million additional housing foreclosures.  Fresh out of college immigrants would predominately enter the rental housing market.


Zavodny: “The estimates show that a 10 percent increase in
H-1B workers, relative to total employment, is associated
with a 0.11 percent increase in the native
employment rate. During the sample period of
2001–2010, this translates into each additional 100
approved H-1B workers being associated with an
additional 183 jobs among US natives.”


Okay, we get down to the meat of the “citizenship provisional” visa, the H-1B.  This is the temporary worker program that encourages foreign nationals to squander their youth chasing the dream of US citizenship; it is reasonable to conclude that citizenship will not be awarded until the worker has completed 10 to 15 years of continuous employment. Why? Because corporate lobbyists have favored temporary immigration over the Employment Based Preference entrance visa with a 5 year Lawful Permanent Residence requirement prior to naturalization.

I have no idea how to decipher Zavodny’s statement, “…a 10 percent increase in H-1B workers, relative to total employment…”, is the 10 percent increase a variable in a regression formula? Or, an increase in the actual data? Is the 10 percent H-1B increase offset by a year, or instantaneous?

Displayed below is the actual H-1B Initial Employment Approvals aligned with the Total Loss/Gain in BLS employment levels for the years 2001-2010.


I can’t see how Zavodny arrives at a 100 to 183 jobs for “Natives” ratio for the same period, when considering the numbers in the above table, I guess I’ll never understand the new math(s).

Rebuttal Data:

Census Homeownership Data:

Educational Data:

WebCASPAR Integrated Science and Engineering Resources Data System

H-1B Initial Employment Approvals:

“USCIS: Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers”

Fiscal Years 2001 through 2009

Employment Level Loss/Gain Data:

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Series Id: LNU00000000

Not Seasonally Adjusted

Series title: (Unadj) Population Level

Labor force status: Civilian noninstitutional population

Type of data: Number in thousands Age: 16 years and over

Data extracted on: January 1, 2012 (3:55:39 PM)

STEM Employment and Educational Statistics

U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration

“STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future”

By David Langdon, George McKittrick, David Beede, Beethika Khan, and Mark Doms,
Office of the Chief Economist

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