Monday, March 5, 2012

Incredible Elasticity in US Science and Engineering Labor Force

In 2010, the Unemployment level for the Science and Engineering Labor force was 426,215.  The average Science and Engineering Labor Force growth was 26,627 yearly (2005 to 2010).  During the same period, the Foreign Born, Science & Engineering Labor force grew by an average of 31,245 per year.

In terms of California Unemployment Benefit levels ($450.00 wk), the preference for foreign professionals costs the various State and Federal Unemployment Agencies $731,133,000.00 per 52 week period. 

See the US S&E heat map from the Population Reference Bureau (Link)

Excel MSA Employment Charts used in this presentation with other Metro Areas available for download. (File > Download)

The American Community Survey(Census ACS) provides data on the Science and Engineering (S&E) Labor Force statics.  The Unemployment level data include the foreign and native born.  It is important to remember that the “Labor Force” consists of the Employed” plus the “Unemployed” when evaluating the information to follow.

I’ve created some charts that detail the characteristics of the S&E employment picture in the various Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA).  The first Chart is the Dallas/Fort Worth MSA, where Jennifer Wedel’s husband has had problem finding Semiconductor Engineering work for the last three years.

If you are not familiar with the Wedel family, you can watch her conversation with President Obama here.



Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area


At first glance we see an S&E Unemployment rate that is fairly high for the Brightest and Best, but we also see a 4.1% increase in the Foreign born in the S&E Labor force for the Dallas Fort Worth MSA. 

The following chart shows that from 2008 to 2010, over 12,000 Native born S&E professionals lost employment, while more than 8,000 Foreign born professionals gained employment (2007 to 2010).


Had these 8,000 jobs stayed with the Native born, the Unemployment Insurance liability for the Dallas Fort Worth MSA would have been for 4,000 professionals instead of 12,000 professionals.  Unemployment Insurance (in California) maximum is $450.00 per week, over the course of a year, benefits for 8,000 formerly well paid professionals would cost $18,720,000.00 to the Texas and Federal Unemployment system(s).


New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area

The New York MSA has the largest S&E Labor Force at 447,600


The Foreign born S&E share of the Labor Force only grew by 1% in the five years covered. The 6.5% Unemployment rate is rather high for a primarily college educated workforce.



In the Chart above, we see elasticity of 30,000 Native born professionals in the New York MSA. The increase in the employment of 30,000 for the Native born only decreased the Unemployment level by about 2,500 in 2006 (this is likely due to the hiring of new college graduates). 

It is interesting to note that the increase in Unemployment from 2008 to 20009, coincides with the decrease in the Employment level of the foreign born.  The drastic drop in employment of the Native born does not show a corresponding rise in Unemployment levels.

From 2009 forward, the 30,000 the newly hired Native born professionals have been dismissed.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area



In the Silicon Valley area, we see a 3% increase in the already very high Foreign born S&E Labor force.   Additionally, the 7.6%  Unemployment rate is disturbing for the center of the universe for all things technical.


There does not appear to be the wildcat layoffs of Native born professionals, in the San Jose MSA.

The chart above seems to indicate that for every 15,000 Foreign born professionals that are hired, 3,000 jobs for Native born professionals are created.  The H-1B propaganda machine seems to have their ( “Each H-1B creates Five jobs”) statistics backwards. 


Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area

This report wouldn’t be complete if the Microsoft Metropolitan Area wasn’t included.



The first thing I notice above is that the Foreign born S&E Labor force levels increased by 6.1%



In the above Chart, we clearly see the (Native born) labor elasticity of about 18,000 S&E professionals. It also appears that the 2008 recession only affected Native born professionals. 

The  (2005 to 2009) addition of Native born professionals only flattened the Unemployment level, but did not show a decline.  There is however, a rise in Unemployment levels that corresponds with the increasing level of Foreign born professionals.

There is also an odd two year offset in this chart between the commencement of Native born professionals (2005) and the hiring commencement of Foreign born professionals (2007).  It would appear that the Seattle MSA is benefiting from the stricter adjudication of H-1B visas over these past years.

In closing, the data suggests that there is more than adequate labor elasticity in the Native Born S&E Labor Force.  Knowingly or not, High Skill immigration allows US Employers to socialize employment costs onto the Unemployment Insurance System.

I would suggest that we modernize our State Unemployment Claims systems to require the inclusion of occupational titles, so that the need for business-related immigration can be electronically verified regionally.  Additionally, the Department of Labor’s occupational classification for H-1B visa should be updated to the modern NAICS-SOC, rather than the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which was last updated in 1991.


Source Data:

Census, Current Population Survey (CPS)

Downloaded from: Population Reference Bureau, March 4, 2012

Source: Population Reference Bureau analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) internal microdata files.

Definition: Scientists and engineers include people in computer science, engineering, architecture, life science, physical science, and social science occupations.

Notes: Data are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. A hyphen (-) indicates data are not available

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