Tuesday, May 15, 2012

STEM – Don’t Let This Happen to Your Job


The H-1B (High skill foreign labor) debate centers around the “Computer-related occupations” employment classification.  Computer-related occupations have borne the brunt of High Skill immigration policy,  Computer-related occupations is just 2.57% of the nation’s employment, but averages 46% of all new H-1B visas and 50% of all H-1B renewals.


(Table 1)


(Table 2)

The remaining H-1B visas are distributed among seventeen occupational groups when including, “Occupation Unknown”.  In addition to the H-1B visa, we have the L-1 Intracompany visa, which is nearly identical to the H-1B.  The table below uses the Computer-related occupation percentages from Table 1 (H-1B initial approvals), to estimate population of Computer-related (C&IS) L-1 visas.


(Table 3)

Temporary work visas are only part of the story, we need to examine the “Bright Outlook” occupations that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are always pushing in Employment Projections.  The following table uses BLS Occupational Employment Statistics to determine employment level growth in Computer-related occupations. 

The “USA Jobs Remaining” column is the employment growth/loss with employment granted to temporary immigrants subtracted.


(Table 4)

Of course, H-1B and L-1 visas authorize employment for 3 years. We need to evaluate  the “USA Jobs Remaining” data in 3 year periods. Also note that temporary immigrant data for 2011 is still not published – so the statistic (table below) gets a “free” 117,500 jobs in 2011.


(Table 5)

The “USA Jobs Remaining” entries in Table 5 are a simple aggregate of the corresponding entries in the “USA Jobs Remaining” column in Table 4.  Recall that the 2011 temporary immigration data is unavailable, the  2009-11 statistic will only get worse.

Finally, we need to consider the Computer-related (C&IS) degrees conferred to citizens and permanent residents. Of course, the terms of the H-1B and L-1 visa is that there must be a job waiting upon arrival, so our students take a “back-seat” to the temporary immigrants.


(Table 6)

Some of the citizen and permanent resident students in Table 6 may already be employed, or may be in school full time in progress to a higher degree.  However, when they enter the workforce, they will be competing for employment with foreign students who enjoy a 29 month,  Social Security exempt while under a student visa, intern status on OPT.  (Qualified Foreign Students)

We’ve done a good job of warning American students to stay away from Computer Science majors, In the light of the USCIS announcing more eligible majors for the OPT classification, I assume the immigration lawyers are looking for other STEM occupations to victimize.


2011 OES Employment level data can be found at  National Cross-Industry 

OES Employment level data (National Cross Industry) for 1999-2010 Here

H-1B Characteristics Reports (2004 through 2010) can be found Here

L-1 visa data can be found Here (Excel)

The 1999 through 2003 H-1B Characteristics Reports appear to be unavailable online, data was taken from archive copies.

Educational data was downloaded from NSF resources before a change to the web interface. I do not know if it is still possible to query the data by residency status.

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