NPR (Thinks It) Has Solved the Mystery of Declining Female Enrollment in CS

A topic of increasing angst in computer science academic circles has been declining percentages of women in undergraduate CS curricula.  Various programs have sprung up to counter the trend, such as Girls Who Code.  But although these efforts are laudable, they overlook the major cause — economics.

I share the concern about the gender lopsidedness in the profession.  This quarter I’m teaching an advanced undergraduate elective course, and have 13 women out of 59 enrolled.  If that seems passable to you (not to me), note that I had 3 women out of 44 in my course on parallel processing last year, another advanced undergraduate elective course.  Actually, I started voicing this concern to my department chair a bit before the issue became a nationwide topic around 2008.

My theory at the time was that women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men.  This was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM, a professional magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery, which found that in choosing to enter the IT field, women placed significantly more emphasis on job security.

Last Friday NPR ran a piece titled “When Women Stopped Coding.”  It was quite engaging, but was long on Political Correctness, blaming things ranging from boy-oriented toys to sexist institutions, and short on real evidence.  Mind you, I don’t disagree that a sexist element runs through parts of the field, but NPR’s explanations are just wrong.

For example, the piece cited a woman who, as a first-year undergrad, had been intimidated by the presence of a fellow student, Lee Van Dorn, who already had years of programming experience under his belt.  The young woman, who had planned to major in CS, bailed.  NPR’s message was that the Lee Van Dorns of the CS world drive out potential female majors in the field.

Well, it just ain’t so.  I’ve been teaching hundreds of CS students per year, every year since the early 1980s, and at least at my institution, the vast majority of male students are not like Lee Van Dorn in the slightest; some of them have had one course in high school, usually of very weak quality, and nothing else, and many other male students enter with no background at all.  Yes, we do have some Lee Van Dorns too, but they are not typical.

Instead, the reason for the decline in female CS enrollment was literally staring the NPR reporter in the face — his graph of female enrollment (apparently measuring graduations) over time.  The graph matches quite well the ups and downs, and accelerations and decelerations, of the CS job market.  Of course, given the huge PR efforts made by the industry portraying the CS field as a lucrative career choice, it’s no wonder the reporter didn’t think of ups and downs; it’s all up, right?

More Data on the Age Issue, Plus Clarification on H-1B Underpayment

As most of you know, I often point out that employers use the H-1B work visa program in order to hire young foreign workers in lieu of U.S. citizens and permanent residents over age 35.  Younger workers are cheaper, as a recent PayScale report illustrates.  (Note that older workers are more costly in terms of health benefits and the like as well.)  Though the analysis simply looks at college major, regardless of whether the person is still working in that field, the numbers (adjusted for inflation) are comparable to the report that I wrote at the invitation of the California Labor & Employment Law Review, a California State Bar publication.  Basically, the magnitude of  wage savings accruing from hiring the young is about 40%.

So you can see why the employers concentrate on the young H-1Bs, and for that matter new or recent grads in general.  Concerning the latter, see my recent blog post, “A Failed Recruitment,” particularly the material quoting Intel.

Which brings me to a point I’ve been meaning to make for a while.  I’ve always referred to what I call Types I and II wage savings accrued by hiring H-1Bs.  The former involves paying H-1Bs less than what comparable Americans make (the word comparable is key), while Type II arises from hiring young foreign workers instead of older Americans.  My Migration Letters paper estimated the Type I savings at something like 20%, and this is what I wish to clarify.

That 20% figure was based on a technique I like to use:  Take the industry’s claims at face value, and see where that leads.  I took that approach in my EPI paper on the technical quality of the H-1Bs, and used this technique in a different context in Migration Letters, concerning the wage savings issue.  In this latter case, I reasoned as follows:

  • The legally required wage for H-1Bs, called the prevailing wage, does not take into account special skills, say Android programming.  Yet the data show that most of the foreign tech workers are paid at or near the prevailing wage.
  • The employers claim that they hire H-1Bs because the foreign workers possess special skills that are rare among Americans.
  • The special skills typically command a premium of 20% or more on the open market.
  • Therefore, the Type I savings is about 20%.

What is often overlooked — including in my own statements, I must admit — is that the above analysis is predicated on the employers’ claims that they hire H-1Bs because qualified Americans are not available.  In reality, though, many employers are motivated not by Type I savings but by Type II.  And it’s no wonder, since the latter savings are much larger.  My point, then, is that even if an employer pays his young new grad H-1Bs the same as similar Americans, he is still saving something like 40% in the Type II sense.

In other words, if one drops the assumption that the employers are telling the truth :-) the overall Type I savings might be somewhat lower than 20%.  I say “somewhat,” because one must also note that most analyses, including mine above, are based on wage at the time of hire.  The NRC survey found that employers admitted to giving the H-1Bs smaller raises and so on, so there is a counter factor, making the 20% figure (or its adjusted version) actually too low.

To my knowledge, my papers are the only ones to take skill sets into account, even in the indirect manner described above.  Clearly, it is a key factor and cannot be ignored.

So, as is often the case with economic issues, we do not have a firm estimate of the magnitude of Type I savings.  But as I state in the Migration Letters article, the question of whether such savings exist should be considered settled, just from applying basic principles:

  • Immobile workers make less than mobile ones, all else being equal.
  • The H-1Bs who are sponsored for green cards (i.e. tech industry mainstream, e.g. Intel, Google etc.) are immobile.
  • Thus the mainstream H-1Bs are underpaid, compared to the market value they’d have if they were American.
  • In addition, the foreign workers tend to be willing to work for less, as a green card serves as large nonmonetary compensation for them.

So, again, the use of the H-1B program by employers to save labor costs ought to be considered a settled question.

In an upcoming post, I’ll present a “cookie theory” analysis of computer industry wage trends.  Stay tuned!

Michael Teitelbaum Visits Davis — Invited by the Provost

Some of you may recall seeing Michael Teitelbaum’s name mentioned often in the ongoing debate on the H-1B work visa and related issues.  Among other things, he published a major book with Princeton University Press earlier this year, debunking the myth of a STEM labor shortage.  In it he also explains how desire to get Congress to expand the H-1B work visa program underlies the shortage claims made by those with vested interests and their allies, such as the tech industry, the immigration lawyers and so on.

Yesterday Michael gave the Provost Lecture at my institution, the University of California at Davis, a very prestigious honor.  Ordinarily this would not be surprising in view of Michael’s stellar international credentials (see the flyer link above), but his views on the H-1B shortage issues are completely antithetical to those of the UCD Chancellor and those of the dean of the UCD law school (where Michael’s talk was held), and of UC as a whole.  I thus commend Provost Ralph Hexter for inviting Michael to speak.

Michael’s campus talk will soon be available on video.  However, since he was speaking under the auspices of the Provost, he emphasized issues of lesser interest to readers of this blog, such as addressing the question of whether the U.S. is spending enough on basic and applied research.  He did briefly mention that the claims of the shortage shouters are incorrect regarding STEM study at the K-12 and university levels (and gave an interesting example of an outrageously unfounded piece by the New York Times editorial board), and he also spoke a bit about the powerful disinformation machine of the tech industry in promoting their claims of a shortage.

I believe that you readers will be much more interested in an informal talk Michael gave to my class earlier in the day.

The class itself is unusual, an in-house course on engineering ethics.  The Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology requires all engineering undergrads to get some exposure to ethics, and my department decided that this would best be done via establishing its own in-house course.  This is the first time I’ve taught the course, and have taken the theme that we cover issues facing the students as future engineers, engineering managers and so on.

Michael generously agreed to lead a discussion in my course yesterday, and it led to a lively student discussion on his hypothetical case involving a CEO or manager being pressured to hire H-1Bs when he knows that qualified Americans are available for the given job openings.  A number of students had comments and questions. One student strongly believed that his duty to the firm would be to ignore the Americans and hire the cheaper H-1Bs instead (though the other half of Michael’s question — should someone in that position tell Congress that the firm can’t find qualified Americans for its jobs? — apparently got lost in the shuffle).

But to me the highlight of the class came when my UCD faculty colleague Phil Martin, a prominent researcher on immigration issues, showed the infamous Cohen and Grigsby video, in which a major Pittsburgh law firm showed clients how to avoid the requirement to first seek qualified Americans to fill a position before sponsoring a foreign worker for a green card.

In the video, which the firm put on the Web for marketing purposes, unaware that it would be noticed and start a controversy, one of the partners in the firm says,

And our goal is clearly, not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker. And you know in a sense that sounds funny, but it’s what we’re trying to do here. We are complying with the law fully, but ah, our objective is to get this person a green card, and get through the labor certification process. So certainly we are not going to try to find a place [at which to advertise the job] where the applicants are the most numerous. We’re going to try to find a place where we can comply with the law, and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants.

I had had no idea that Phil would show this video, but it certainly had an impact on the students, a number of whose facial expressions seemed to convey that they were profoundly shocked.  (Note by the way that the videos filmed by that law firm also showed how employers game the system to circumvent the prevailing wage requirements, which apply to both green cards and H-1B visas, and which are below market wage to begin with,)

Another notable aspect of Michael’s visit to my class was that he recalled for us how a Microsoft official had told him privately that the firm has tons of applicants, but that it rejects most of them by applying an automatic computer algorithm, with no human involvement at all.  One student was very surprised by this, and seemed to find the news a bit distressing.  Actually this is a common practice in the industry, but Michael made the important point that this information is in stark contrast to Microsoft’s testimony to Congress that qualified American applicants just don’t exist in sufficient numbers.  (See also a related incident with Dropbox.)

Michael was in meetings with various campus entities throughout the day, so I’m quite grateful that he took the time to address my class, and again I thank the Provost for his involvement.

Immigrant Superstars

In my last post, on the NAS conference, I did not mention the survey paper , “International Migration and U.S. Innovation,” by Bill Kerr.   He gives a good, careful overview of the research literature in the field, for example taking care to point out that some of the papers were “done for advocacy purposes.”  One small quibble is that he uses the doubt-inducing word claim for my work, while using the approving word find for all the other papers he cites, including his own. :-)  Kerr finds, Peri finds, etc., but Matloff only claims.  Ouch!

Bill begins his Conclusions section with this:

Immigrants are of deep importance to U.S. innovation. This is most evident in terms of their sheer quantity for STEM work in the United States, and the disproportionate number of superstars who are immigrants speak to this.

Regular readers of this blog know that although I’ve often expressed my great respect for Bill and his coauthors — they definitely among the most thoughtful researchers in the area of foreign tech workers — I still often disagree with their findings/methods, even in cases in which their findings jibe with my own.

I’ve written plenty, e.g. in my EPI paper, on what Bill describes as “their sheer quantity” before — as forecast 25 years ago by the NSF, the influx of foreign STEM specialists held down PhD wages and therefore drove out the Americans from STEM graduate work — but Bill’s mentioning “he disproportionate number of superstars who are immigrants” caught my eye.  This aspect will be the focus of my post here this evening.

I should remind readers that I have always strongly supported facilitating the immigration of the superstars (including those with outstanding promise).  But Bill’s word disproportionate is provocative.  While I’ve shown in various ways that most H-1Bs, especially those who first come to the U.S. as foreign students (the industry’s prized group, according to the lobbyists), are not “the best and the brightest,” I haven’t done much specifically on rates of superstardom.  What I’ll do here is review my work in that regard for computer science (CS), and then follow with some new data.

In any such analysis, the key aspect is properly defining the numerator and denominator implied in use of the term disproportionate.  Take a common example, Nobel laureates. What should we use for our denominator?  Certainly not the general population.  Maybe the population of those with STEM bachelor’s degrees?  Master’s?  PhDs?  PhDs in academia?  You can see the problem.

I will not address other superstardom papers in this posting (will do so later if I see it worthwhile), but in the case of my EPI paper, I believe my choices of numerator and denominator were quite reasonable:  number of dissertation awards / number of dissertations, referring to the very prestigious ACM Dissertation Award. There I found that foreign students in North America received 48% of the awards, and that 48-51% of all CS dissertations were done by foreign students.  (One of the awards was in Canada, and that one went to a foreign student.)  In other words, the foreign students were no more and no less prone to win this award than the Americans.

So, Bill’s term disproportionate does not apply in the case of CS.  What field to look at next?  I have generally restricted my analyses of H-1B-related issues to CS, because that is my own field.  I’ve often criticized work on both sides of the H-1B debate on the grounds that although the researchers are fine number crunchers, to them the numbers merely concern widgets, without understanding what these workers really do.  I believe that my own contribution stems largely from the fact that I do have such insight.

Accordingly, I’ve now done something similar to my CS dissertation analysis, this time turning the field of Statistics.  That was my original research area — I was one of the founding members of the UCD Department of Statistics — and much of my CS work has been statistical in nature.  So I know what Statistics researchers do, who is outstanding in the field, and so on.

And as with CS, there is a handy data set to work from, The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Presidents’ Award.  COPSS’ description is quite accurate:

The COPSS Presidents’ Award is given annually by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies to a person under the age of 40, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of statistics. It is arguably the most prestigious award in statistics, the Nobel Prize of Statistics.

These are brilliant, truly outstanding people, many of them quite prominent in today’s Big Data and Machine Learning crazes.  They are professors at places like Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU and so on. The U.S. is lucky to have them, natives and immigrants alike.

I limited my analysis to those who earned their PhDs in the U.S., again reflecting the industry lobbyists’ emphasis on the foreign grad students at U.S. universities.  The results were that foreigners got 33% of the awards, but form 50% of the PhDs granted (the latter number from the NSCG data).

In other words, in the Stat field, foreigners receive a disproportionately SMALL number of awards.

I’ll have more to say on this in future posts.

Low-Key Conference on a Hot Issue

Recently a short conference was held on H-1B and related issues at the National Academy of Sciences.  The NAS is a highly august, 150-year-old private organization, whose research arm, the NRC, is frequently commissioned by Congress to do studies on controversial issues.  I’ve often cited their 2001 study, conducted when Congress requested an analysis of the tech industry’s claims of a labor shortage, claims by critics of rampant age discrimination in tech, and so on.

The Web page for the recent conference states that videos will be available of the proceedings.  I had intended to wait for them before posting here, but since they are still not available, I’m commenting now on the basis of the posted papers and slides.  I’ll comment on more information if it becomes available (including possibly from some who read this and were present at the conference).

According to a Computerworld article, the NAS conference was cosponsored by Microsoft.  I was disappointed to learn this, as Microsoft has contributed funding to a number of organizations and individuals who do research that takes a supportive view of the H-1B program.  It’s not clear to what degree Microsoft played a hands-on role in this case.  I actually know very little about the conference, and did not hear of it until it had already occurred.  One person who was present did tell me that there were a number of people from industry, e.g. Google, in attendance.

Judging from the posted statements and slides at the above conference URL, it appears that the tone was low-key, and the speakers who spoke directly on H-1B (some were addressing much more general, abstract issues, and others focused on immigration policies of other countries) tended to be people with moderate views on the issue.

One thing that caught my eye in reading the posted materials is that some speakers apparently supported what I consider an unwarranted separation of the “bad” H-1Bs, those that are hired directly from India by the outsourcing companies such as Tata, and the “good” ones, foreign students hired by mainstream firms from U.S. university graduate (typically Master’s) programs.  As many of you know, I consider this dichotomy inaccurate (the mainstream firms abuse H-1B just as much as Tata et al, albeit with a higher class of workers) and destructive (the Senate bill scapegoats the Indian firms but actually expands H-1B for the mainstream).  However, lacking access to the videos, I am not sure that this was indeed what some speakers discussed.

One troubling aspect is that there seemed to be quite a bit of unnuanced discussion of the “contributions” and “importance” of immigrants in STEM.  For example, citing the percentage of immigrants among U.S. patent filers sounds wonderful, but the fact is that the per-capita patenting rate for the immigrants is lower than that of the natives.  This was shown in research by Jennifer Hunt in general (who was one of the organizers of the conference, but who did not present a paper there), and in my own work for the case of former computer science foreign students who went on to work in the U.S. after graduation.  When one views this lower patenting rate in the context of the (mostly indirect but real) displacement of Americans from STEM due to the foreign influx, one sees there is a net loss of talent level and innovation to the U.S. economy, something the speakers should be alarmed at.

By the way, a quote in the Computerworld article is a good example of Microsoft misinformation on the H-1B issue over the years.  A few years ago, for instance, the firm insisted that its H-1Bs are paid “over $100,000 a year to start” until publicly shown wrong.  The current article quotes Microsoft’s Bill Kamela:

Focusing on computer science related degrees, Kamela said that a recent graduate “probably has four job offers today,” and can go shopping for the best salary offer.

That’s quite counter to what I found last Spring, in my queries to placement officers at two universities and my own survey of the graduating students in my department.  Mind you, tech employers are indeed focusing on new grads and there has been a modest uptick in their salaries, but the employers are not hiring a large number of them.

And the cogniscenti among you will note, concerning the above point about going “shopping for the best salary offer,” that that is one of the biggest reasons Microsoft and other mainstream tech firms like hiring H-1Bs so much:  After hire, the foreign workers CAN’T “go shopping,” as they are effectlively immobile (if they are also being sponsored for a green card, typical among the mainstream firms).  As I’ve noted before, this not only means they get smaller raises than do comparable Americans (a finding in the NRC report), but even more important, they can’t leave the employer in the lurch by bolting in the midst of an urgent project.

Navarrette (Unwittingly) Hits the Nail on the Head

One of my readers pointed me to a recent column by Ruben Navarrette.  My reader, whom I’ll refer to as M, was irritated by a particular passage in the column, but to me the entire piece requires comment.

Navarrette’s theme here is that those who would like to tighten immigration policy, known to both sides as restrictionists, have changed their tactics, from race baiting to class warfare.  M, as an immigrant and person of color himself, must have found that “race baiting” characterization of restrictionists quite offensive.  Polls have shown over the years that many immigrants tend to agree that immigration policy needs some tightening, and native African-Americans have been particularly concerned.

The passage cited by M was this one:

[Center for Immigration Studies analyst] Vaughan made a pitch for fairness and told the story of U.S. hotel workers who had been fired after many years on the job and replaced with immigrants who were willing to work for lower wages.

Steam came out of my ears. I countered that jobs in the U.S. are not reserved for Americans but rather are open to anyone who comes here legally and competes for them. I said no one promised the American workers that they were entitled to a life free of competition and suggested those threatened by undocumented workers with limited skills need to go back to school and get more skills.

There is a lot in that passage.

First, the restrictionists have been pointing out for years that the American underclass is victimized by low-skilled immigration.  The case of LA hotel owners breaking up the mainly-black janitors union and hiring cheaper Latino immigrants in their place has been cited by the restrictionists for a good 20 years.  (This may or may not be what Vaughn is referring to.)  A 1992 article in the Atlantic Monthly, “Black and Brown in LA,” was also prominently mentioned by the restrictionist side at the time.  Navarrette’s claim that the restrictionists have suddenly discovered the impact on America’s poor as a reason for reducing the size of the yearly immigration flow is clearly false, and I suspect that Navarrette knows that.

After Hurricane Katrina, a number of locals, mainly African-American, were hired for the cleanup and rebuilding.  But after a few days, they were told, “We don’t need you anymore.  The Mexicans have arrived,” a statement that speaks volumes.  Ironically, the “LA” in black and brown in LA was now Louisiana.  Keep this in mind in reading Navarrette’s statement, “those threatened by undocumented workers with limited skills need to go back to school and get more skills” — he seems to be addressing his comments to African-Americans!

Though arguably Navarrette has a point, the really salient point is that HE is the one doing the race-baiting.

As to his complaint that restrictionists are couching the immigration debate in terms of misdeeds by Big Business, that’s not new either, and I suspect that privately Navarrette does not disagree. It’s true for high-skilled immigration too, of course, even more so.  Former Senator Alan Simpson, praised here by Navarrette, used to complain about the tech industry’s total intransigence in making the H-1B program more fair to American workers.  One remark of his, made in 1996 to the San Jose Mercury News, describes the situation most succinctly:  “`I was working with the business community…to address their concerns, [but] each time we resolved one, they became more creative, more novel.”  In the end, the industry blocked reform of H-1B altogether.

So why, then, have I titled this blog post as indicating that Navarrette actually got to the core of the immigration issue?  The fact is that I strongly agree with his statement, “…jobs in the U.S. are not reserved for Americans but rather are open to anyone who comes here legally and competes for them.”  Some of you have noticed that in writing about the impact of H-1B on Americans, I always define that latter group to consist of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.   An immigrant with a newly-minted green card has just as much right to a job opening as naturalized citizens and natives.

But that is the crux of the matter.  Our immigration policy should be designed so that a given occupation, whether blue or white collar, is not overwhelmed by the external influx.  Immigration keeps us from getting stagnant and complacent, but at a certain point it becomes harmful, both to the Americans and the newcomers alike.  H-1B, as I’ve said, is more than anything a tool to avoid hiring over-35 workers, and there are many older immigrant engineers in Silicon Valley who have trouble finding engineering work, just like the natives.

I used to be a fan of Navarrette’s, since before he started writing newspaper columns.  I bought and enjoyed his memoir of his journey from a poor Central Valley family to the rarified atmosphere of Harvard, published just after he graduated.  But then he turned into a hateful ideologue, a shameful waste of talent.


Facebook, H-1B and Age

I’ve long emphasized that one of the major reasons the H-1B visa is so attractive to employers is that it enables them to avoid hiring older U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Other key reasons I’ve often cited are a desire for immobile labor (especially if the employer is also sponsoring the worker for a green card), and the convenience of simply recruiting at U.S. universities, where there are lots of foreign students.  In this post, I’ll focus on the age issue, though note that it ties in to the convenience issue as well, since most university students are young.  And I’ll use Facebook as my main example, both because Mark Zuckerberg’s has been leading the fight in Congress for expansion of H-1B and because Senator Sessions called it out in his recent speech.

Though I generally place the age discrimination dividing line at 35, I’ve sometimes mentioned that it often occurs even earlier.  Just to make matters concrete before I get to the figures, let’s look at the example of my former student, whom I’ll call Tom.  He has skills of great interest to Facebook, and is one of the sharpest students I’ve had.  I certainly know people at Facebook who are not quite as sharp as Tom. Yet he didn’t even get a phone interview from Facebook when he applied.  This shocked his friends, who with similar backgrounds were in strong demand.

Tom’s problem, I believe, was that, in contrast to his younger friends, he was about 30 at the time he sought work at Facebook, as he had worked in the industry for a while before coming back for his Master’s degree. You might think that’s a plus, but it basically priced him out of the market.  I’m sure that Facebook would value his experience, BUT not so much as to pay him a salary appropriate to his years.

Keep that latter point in mind — experience is good in an absolute sense, but not when compared to the additional salary that goes with that experience.  To quantify that, consider this analysis of Facebook salaries.  The data there indicate that a Senior Software Engineer gets paid about $30,000 more than an ordinary Software Engineer, and more than $40,000 above what a new grad gets.  You do need to take these numbers with a grain of salt, first because it’s Glassdoor data and second because it doesn’t break down according to factors such as degree level (Bachelor’s vs. Master’s) and prestige of one’s university.  (Concerning the latter, two young men wearing Stanford sweatshirts are pictured as new grads, and data cited in my EPI paper indicate that a Stanford degree commands a premium of about 30%.) So, we shouldn’t focus on specific numbers, but one thing is quite clear:  That Senior title means a hefty differential in pay, compared to the ordinary Software Engineers.

Now, add to that another point I’ve shown repeatedly:  Even a Senior title typically means only 3-5 years of experience!  Now you can see why Tom was likely viewed as too expensive — at age 30!  Imagine how Facebook views a 35-year-old, let alone those over 40.  I’ve mentioned before a professor I know, who is over 70 but still active, and who after a visit to Facebook told me with his typical humor, “Most of their employees seem to be the age of my grandkids, a few the age of my kids and none close to my age.”

With that in mind, I looked at the PERM data (wage and other information for green card sponsorees) for Facebook, 2013.  Before I discuss this, though, a note on prevailing wage data (the legally required floor for H-1B and green cards):  I didn’t look at the measure I used in my Migration Letters paper, ratio of wage offered to prevailing wage, because of a major change in the latter.  The DOL has apparently replaced its Software Engineer category with a much broader Software Developers category — the latter having a prevailing wage about $20,000 cheaper than the former.  Knowing that the industry and the AILA are quite aggressive in pressuring regulators for favorable policies, I suspect that this category change came about at the behest of the industry.  In any case, though, I did not use that data here.  (Note by the way that these figures are for the hyperexpensive Bay Area, but it’s true that Facebook pays well.)

Instead, I tabulated the Prevailing Wage Level, I, II, III and IV in the DOL scheme.  John Miano has analyzed such data before, but here I wanted to tie it directly to the age issue.  The system is complex, but Level roughly corresponds to years of experience.  Note carefully that even Level II still is for the very young; if Tom had been an H-1B, he likely would have been at Level III.

Here are the results, among Software Developers:

22% 64% 2% 12%

Well, there you have it!  86% of Facebook’s foreign software developers are younger than Tom (age 30)!  This, I submit, is why Tom didn’t even get a phone interview from Facebook — the firm wants the young H-1Bs instead of him.  And, as noted, they are immobile too, unlike Tom, making them much more attractive to Facebook even if he had been younger.

Easy numbers to remember when you read’ literature.