CS Wages Flat Again, and Other Developments

I’ve often emphasized the age issue for H-1B; employers hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older (age 35+) Americans. There is also a preference for young Americans, of course, and I’ve cited many public statements, ads and so on showing that when Intel, Facebook, Microsoft and so on say there is a shortage of Americans in tech, they mean YOUNG Americans.

But things are not necessarily that great for new American grads in tech either. Analyses, e.g. those of Tony Carnevale, indicate that most computer science grads are working outside the field. Some such grads do so by choice, of course, and some others may simply not be highly skilled enough. But many are in neither of these categories, and are being passed over in favor of new-grad foreign students, who are cheaper and, if sponsored for a green card, immobile. And being cheaper, they hold down overall wages.

Thus the salaries of new grads provide a key window into conditions of the labor market. Fortunately, excellent data is available from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Detailed data requires NACE membership, but the organization releases several summaries per year.

Over the years, I’ve cited these summaries, which have consistently found that salaries for new CS grads are flat (including the case of very mild increases) or actually falling. The latest NACE data show that this trend is continuing, in spite of the increasingly load drumbeat from the tech industry lobbyists that the universities are not producing enough CS grads. The mean new-grad CS wage rose a grand total of $34. Yet you can knock on doors on Capitol Hill all day and not find a single staffer who’s ever heard of NACE.

A couple of other news items:

First, the judge in the OPT lawsuit has granted DHS’ request for an extension, giving the government until May 10 to fix the technical errors in its 2008 extension of the work-rights period for foreign students. John Miano, chief attorney for the plaintiffs, is doing a great job, deftly citing the law, but it would appear that the law just doesn’t matter.

I forecast earlier that this might happen, and wrote the following to John after the judge postponed her deadline, concerning what I believe the likely scenario was:

  1. Judge looks at law, facts, decides (sort of) in your favor.
  2. Judge’s colleagues and friends say to her, “How could you possibly have made that ruling?  These foreign students are geniuses, and they are keeping the U.S. tops in the world in technology!  You are just helping Donald Trump!  Your picture will be on every TV news show, juxtaposed with footage of the foreign students sadly going home, and their employers angrily denouncing you! How could you have been so stupid?!”
  3. Judge finds a way out, law or no law.

Note the lead paragraph of the above link to PIE (emphasis added):

The 17-month extension of a year-long US post-study work programme for STEM graduates will stay in place until May 10, it was announced this week. The decision by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle gives international educators in the US an extra three months to campaign for longer post-study work visas for STEM students.

“Campaign”? In the context, it would seem that the “international educators” (read: foreign-student advisers at universities, whose jobs rely on having a large population of international students) are campaigning with the judge or the Justice Dept. Scary.

Finally, a news item about the category of companies I call the “Infosyses,” the “rent a programmer” firms that I contend are being scapegoated for what are industry-wide abuses of H-1B, OPT, green cards and other foreign worker programs. The Obama people have now accepted (actively sought?) funding for a low-level educational program in computer technology from Infosys and TCS — in spite of the huge negative publicity about such firms during the last year, concerning incidents in which Disney and other firms replaced American ITers by foreign workers.

Fired Disney workers recently brought a lawsuit against Disney and Infosys over the incident. I’m sure many readers have wondered when I will cover the suit in this blog, but the really perceptive ones know that I think there has been far too much publicity on Disney/Infosys already; this gives the wrong impression that abuse of H-1B etc. is mainly limited to the Infosyses, an impression that I don’t want to foster by writing about it here. (Also, I don’t think the plaintiffs have any chance of success.)

But when the Obama administration has the gall to embrace the Infosyses, then yes, I do feel the need to comment, as I am doing so here. See the numerous insightful remarks by Professor Ron Hira in the Computerworld article linked to above, to which I would add one more point: By tipping its hat to the Infosyses, the administration is not only punching the laid-off Disney workers in the gut, but also giving credence to the idea that H-1B is needed to remedy a tech labor shortage.

As we know, large philanthropic donations can buy respectability for the unrespectable. But did you know that TCS has been doing this for years? It started at least as far back as 2004 at Carnegie Mellon University, and has recently been growing ever since. According to the consistently pro-H-1B Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (which by the way is the most consistently pro-H1-B paper I’ve seen, much more so than the San Jose Mercury News), TCS recently gave a $35 million donation to CMU, the fifth-largest in the institution’s history.

I must again cite my favorite Lily Tomlin quote: “I tried to be a cynic, but I couldn’t keep up.”


68 thoughts on “CS Wages Flat Again, and Other Developments

  1. “I tried to be a cynic, but I couldn’t keep up.” I thought the Lilly Tomlin quote was: “No matter how cynical you get, it is hard to keep up.”


  2. The only way to prevent US domestic students from being kicked out is to increase educational funding, make sure college is affordable to US domestic students and enhance pre-college STEM education in US high school.

    Attacking foreign students in the name of “protecting US workers” is not only a shame but also an ineffective approach.

    Did you notice the most anti-immigration hawks in Congress are also the most staunch supporters of slashing education funding and even the department of education under the name of “fiscal conservatism”?

    PS: I do not understand why you are so sensitive about the “age” issue. Age may be an advantage but is definitely not the only factor to consider. It is also natural for a recruiter to consider about age as a factor. Otherwise, why do we have entitlement program? why do we have the concept of “retirement”?


    • Your posting is a giant contradiction. I am saying that the employers hire foreign students while rejecting equally qualified Americans, and your “solution” to that is to produce even more Americans to be rejected. Where is the logic?

      Your comment about age is equally silly. Imagine what would happen if Google were to go to Congress and say, “We don’t want to hire older Americans, so give us more H-1Bs.”


      • 1)We finally got to the core of our difference. What you said reveals a fundamental difference in our understanding,

        You think the inflow of foreigners is the cause. I, on the other hand, think it is the consequence.

        2) From you previous blog, you complain about “US domestic students are kicked out”, That is why I say improving US domestic education system and making college more affordable are the right solutions to prevent US domestic students from being kicked out and I do not think it is a contradiction.

        3)If you stance is to allow people who are worth staying to stay, then you should disagree with Mr Miano’s approach as Mr Miano wants to repeal everything without any regard to people who are worth staying.

        From your previous blog, you seem to oppose Donald Trump’s ban of all Muslims because there are some dangerous terrorists among Muslims . Then you should also reject the idea of repealing the whole OPT program simply because there are bad horses in the group.

        4) Final one: Do you notice the most anti immigration hawks are also the strongest opposing forces of campaign finance reform?(you should know the case of citizens united)

        You seem to be very angry about all those tech giants using money to influence government policy.

        If we cannot get rid of money influence on US politics, how can you make sure real reforms are going to be delivered?

        Ironically, this is the dilemma of the opposing side: they hate the current immigration system but those problems in the current immigration system they despise actually arise from things they want to advocate.


        • You say that I wrote that “domestic students are kicked out,” but I can’t find the phrase. Please show me the exact thing I said, and then I can reply to you.

          You write here, directed at me, “You think the inflow of foreigners is the cause. I, on the other hand, think it is the consequence.” I’m not sure what you mean by that either, but I will guess that you think that the foreign workers are remedying a tech labor shortage. If that is what you mean, then you are clearly wrong, because wages are flat; see my last post, for example.

          The real reason Congress is unwilling to take effective action is that BOTH major parties LIKE the system as it is, very corrupt. And that is why programs like H-1B, OPT and so on have strong bipartisan support — corruption.

          I agree with John Miano that OPT should be abolished. I’ve said so here in this blog.

          You keep talking about “bad horses.” The biggest difference between you and me is that there are lots of people that you consider “good horses” but whom I regard as “bad horses,” or at least “mediocre horses.”

          Please be more careful about using the phrase “anti-immigration.” Don’t confuse political goals with personal views. Let me tell you: Some, probably many, of those so-called “pro-immigration” people in Congress would be at least somewhat displeased if their sons or daughter were to marry a nonwhite immigrant. And my guess is that on the other hand, Donald Trump treats immigrants were respect; he married on, in fact.


          • 1) You may not have the exact quote. I am just paraphrasing your idea as you believe the inflow of foreigners is the source of evil.

            May I ask what is your standard to judge “bad horses” vs “good horses” vs “ok Horses”?
            By GPA? By ranking of schools? By secret performance data from company feedbacks?

            then we can talk about our biggest difference about how to judge bad horses

            2)Mr Miano wants to abolish the whole OPT without any remedy or reform in consideration.

            How does that reconcile with your stated stance of allowing people who are worth staying to stay?

            How does it differ from Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims because there are certain dangerous people among Muslims?

            You did not answer me in your post.

            3)You said “The real reason Congress is unwilling to take effective action is that BOTH major parties LIKE the system as it is, very corrupt. And that is why programs like H-1B, OPT and so on have strong bipartisan support — corruption.”

            And why is there corruption? Is it because the major donors of both parties can use money to influence politics? Then what I said is right: the right wing conservatives who do not like immigrants / foreigners are the same people who help create this corrupt system and that is why status-quo does not change.

            Ted Cruz, who proposed a bill you called dream act, is a staunch opponent of campaign finance reform and he is a big believer of “money is speech”. That should tell you something

            4) I do not think phrase of anti-immigration is a personal view. I think it is indeed a political goal disguised under the name of “protecting US workers”.

            Everything you said before your last part has some reason behind. However, your last part about Donald Trump is absolutely wrong.

            Regarding Donald Trump, you should not really say he treats immigrants with respect by talking about his third wife. I am very sure Donald Trump married his third wife not because he likes immigrants but because she is a beautiful super model.


          • You say, addressing me, “you believe the inflow of foreigners is the source of evil.” Please recall my statement a few weeks ago, concerning the fact that I see my foreign students applying to the same companies that I see older, equally-qualified Americans applying to — and yet the foreign students get the jobs and the Americans don’t. I have two Americans in particular in mind right now (though I see it all the time), and one of them is quite desperate to find work.

            The foreign students who I see being favored by the employers over those two Americans are inferior in quality to the two Americans. The foreign students are nice people, and I am happy for them in reaching their goal of getting a job in the U.S, but this is (a) a terrible injustice, and (b) a net LOSS in talent for our nation. So, yes, here you can see a direct impact. I’ve not used the word “evil,” but this should NOT be happening, and the word “evil” would not be out of line.

            I believe that you may be also referring to my citing the 1989 NSF report that forecast that the inflow of foreign students would cause wages to stagnate and thus discourage domestic students from going to grad school. I do NOT think grad school is very important for those going into industry, but if anyone does think it is important, here is another direct impact — forecast by the NSF, not me, but in any case, one that turned out to be correct.

            How do I judge the top “horses”? I like what a faculty colleague of mine once said about what type of person we should hire for our faculty: “I only want to hire people who can intimidate me [intellectually].”

            If we just allowed the truly talented foreigners to get jobs in the U.S., the H-1B cap would never even come close to filling. Thus no need for OPT.

            Thank you for bringing up the issue of Trump again. What no one is speaking out loud is that allowing in the Syrian refugees involves a tradeoff. On the one hand, it is consistent with our ideals, but on the other hand, it means risking (risk, not certainty) another WTC, Boston Marathon bombing and San Bernardino shooting. Though no one will say it publicly (I am doing so here, right now), we hold our ideals so dear that we are willing to undergo that tradeoff. Trump is simply saying, we can’t afford the risk, so he draws the tradeoff line at a different point than I do; I don’t fault him for that. I greatly admire Trump, and just wish he wouldn’t be so impetuous in his statements.

            You are using false logic in your comments above on Cruz and Trump’s marriage. Sorry, but I just don’t want to take the time to go there.


          • By the way, when I say inflow of foreign students is the consequence. what I mean is because of the decline in education funding, shrinking of middle class and income equality. more and more Americans cannot afford good college education or STEM education and that is why universities have to search for alternative sources of funding and that is why there will be inflow of foreigners.

            That is why I say the only way to solve this problem is to promote STEM education for US domestic students in college and in pre-college and make college education more affordable.


          • I don’t mean to sound rude (sorry if it has seemed so), but you still don’t get it. There is no STEM labor shortage! So we don’t need to promote STEM education.


          • I see you frequently refer to an older vs younger programmer argument. I think one key thing to remember is the nature of software engineering. If you look at the team structure of any major company (Google, Microsoft, Amazon etc), there’ll be one or two rock star architects at the top (Jeff Dean, Mark Russinovich etc) who are arguably amongst the best who pretty much spell out what needs to be done. Below that you have mid-level managers, a couple of senior engineers per team and a slew of junior/fresh-grad engineers. And this has been working for these companies. Which goes to show that most aspects of professional programming aren’t that hard as they’re made out to be. If I were a business owner, why should i pay more to hire an older gentleman (who’ll demand more pay and arguably work less hours) when I have a cheaper, smart kid to do it?

            Which brings me to my next point, profressional programming is basically a blue-collar job. I see it being similar to construction jobs where you work for a few years and move on to better things. Construction companies favor younger people too. So after hitting 35, if you haven’t been able to move on to management or to the near top of your org, you’re a professional failure. You are now competing with 20 somethings who can do the same job as you can. That’s why I think an MBA is a great option for software engineers.

            It’s important to understand that the value of a programmer goes down as he gets older. This is unlike Doctors, Lawyers, MBA folks. It’s the classic thinkers vs workers arguments. And now given that you’re a failure, forcing corporations to hire you doesn’t sound like a free market/American argument to me. You are responsible for your life’s choices and well being and career trajectory. Not the corporations.


          • It’s funny that you think the practice of hiring mainly young programmers is “working.” There are lots of people who disagree. Experience DOES matter in this field.

            But it’s irrelevant. The question at hand is not whether employers should be allowed to favor young Americans over older Americans. Instead, the issue is whether employers should be allowed to favor young FOREIGN workers over older Americans.


          • 1) So you seem to agree with my statement that if money influence on politics is there, there is no way for meaningful change as you do not try to refute me on this position.

            2)You said “If we just allowed the truly talented foreigners to get jobs in the U.S., the H-1B cap would never even come close to filling. Thus no need for OPT.”

            Unfortunately that is not the case. The lawsuit brought by Washington Alliance only asks for abolishing the OPT program. This will impact everyone regardless of whether one is worth staying or not.

            The precondition for “no need for OPT” is to allow “the truly talented foreigners to get jobs in the U.S to stay and thus H1b cap would never even come close to filiing”.

            You are also using a false logic: if your stated precondition is not met, then your conclusion cannot be reached.

            3) Regarding your claim “there is no shortage of labor in STEM fields”, I think we have already talked a lot about that and I am not going to repeat it.

            However, as you use your own experience, I want to use my own experience as well, I have stayed in US for 8 years and I attend US high school, US college and US graduate school. I can say very sure there are serious problems in US STEM education in terms of young people’s interest, college affordability and the number of teachers.

            There is urgent need to improve/enhance/promote STEM education in US. Again, people who want to restrict immigration are the same people who want to slash education funding by the name of “fiscal conservatism”.

            That is why Obama administration is launching CS initiative program, You may have problem with the source of funding as you said in your blog. But you cannot deny the good intention of the administration.

            4) Regarding Donald Trump’s claim, I strongly disagree with you because you seem to think it is reasonable to use the logic “we cannot take any risk”.

            The logic “we cannot take any risk” is fundamentally flawed and dangerous:

            With the same logic that “we cannot take any risk”, then everyone’s gun shall be confiscated because there are always violent criminals who will use guns to murder. A citizen may be law-biding now but we cannot take risk as one can possibly behave badly at any time.

            With the same logic that “we cannot take any risk”, then US should disclose border and ban inflow of foreigners on any type of visa because any foreigner will have a chance to stay over and become an illegal immigrant or even worse will conduct terrorist attack,

            Also, given the Charleston church shooting by a white supremacist, what if somebody from black community calls for total ban of all white Americans?


          • Please don’t conclude that if I don’t address some point of yours, then I must agree with you. That does not follow. I have limited time to write here.

            The system is very corrupt. However, I’ve said many times that if American engineers and programmers were to become activist in large numbers, they’d be unstoppable. Same is true for overturning Citizens v. United.

            Sorry, I do NOT agree that the Obama action computer technology education (please don’t call it CS education; we’re talking mainly about high classes in Excel and maybe BASIC) shows good intentions. It’s a publicity stunt, nothing more.

            You don’t have to lecture me about the quality of U.S. STEM education. I of course went through the system myself, as did my two brothers, as did my daughter, as did my nieces and nephews, as did the children of my friends, and above all, as did my students. I know the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. system extremely well, and I know the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese system well too. And it’s the U.S. system that has produced the big successes over the years, not the Chinese one. In my opinion, that trend will continue into the future, even though personally I would like to see China improve.

            And getting back to the topic at hand, the U.S. system produces ENOUGH STEM grads, actually much more than enough. Just look at the data.

            The answer to your point about Charleston is that we are stuck with the Americans, including the bad ones. But we have the OPTION as to whether to admit foreigners.

            I strongly support John Miano in his lawsuit. Your assumption is that if he were to prevail, there would be a void, a gap. That is not true, because Congress would then take quick action to compensate (whether it would be a good action or not from my point of view is of course not clear). But even if Congress were to do nothing, I would consider it to be a good thing on the whole. That should tell you how strongly I feel about the issue.

            Note by the way that there are other visas employers can use. Right now L-1 is very popular, and the O-1 visa is available for the outstanding talents.

            I have enjoyed interacting with you, and look forward to more. But I must insist that you make full disclosure: Have you been on OPT (now or earlier)?


          • aussie programmer, you make a number of silly claims. You state that programmers become less valuable as they get older, and then you turn around and refer to the achievements of older programmers such as Mark Russinovich . The fact is that industry is full of older programmers and engineers who do extraordinary things and add immense value to their companies and society.

            Then, for some reason, you say programming is a blue collar job. If that was true, companies could hire anyone for the jobs, but they clearly don’t, and programming is clearly not a blue collar job. Programmers usually have university training including PhDs.

            You also don’t understand how development works at the type of companies you refer to. Teams at those companies work with a high degree of autonomy and are comprised of talented engineers. All members are expected to contribute. The command driven approach you describe is characteristic of third tier firms such as outsourcers, not engineering-driven companies.

            Finally, let me point out that if your argument had any merit then Australia would have a thriving technology industry, since Australian companies are free to hire young workers from overseas without any restrictions. But Australia is a backwater in the technology industry.


          • 1) No one is trying to lecture you. You are entitled to express your position by your life stories. I am entitled to myself to express my position by my life stories.

            2) I have been on OPT of course but now I am on H1b now.

            I remember people including you accuse me of being “self-serving” in our last conversation, If I am indeed self-serving, I will fake an English name and post “let’s abolish OPT and drive all foreigners away”. After all, if foreign students’ inflow decreases due to disappearance of OPT. I will face less competition from my peers for green card.

            3) I do not understand why you say is that “we are stuck with the Americans, including the bad ones. But we have the OPTION as to whether to admit foreigners.”

            So you think rejecting all foreigners and closing the border is a valid alternative to the current problem?

            You are entitled to think in that way but if that indeed happens, what is the difference between US and North Korea?

            4) Mr Miano and Washington Alliance are entitled to advocate their agenda just like Fwd.US are entitled to advocate their totally opposite agenda as well. That does not prevent you from attacking those groups which support visa expansion and this does not prevent me from having bad impression on Washington Alliance.

            However, I do not think Washington Alliance has done it in an ethical way. They try to target at foreign students who have little political power and they do not have guts to stand up against industrial lobbyists?

            For example, Washington Alliance has Nothing to gain from opposing the extension of OPT vacation deadline to May 10. You should know the current appeal brought by Washington Alliance is in a different litigation.(if somehow their objection will help their appeal, then I disagree but I will understand)

            The only result that will happen if their opposition succeeds is to inflict damage to foreign students. I think it is very selfish and coward because they show their desire to harm others even if it does not help their own cause.

            5) If you think Obama administration’s initiative is a political stunt, that reminds me of when Obama announces execute orders for gun control. All republicans say Obama is trying to undermine second amendment while most democrats praise Obama for taking actions to stop gun violence.

            So Do I detect a partisanship here as you seem not to be a fan of Obama administration


          • Let’s take the last item first, concerning Obama. I am a lifelong Democrat, and was delighted when the U.S. elected its first African-American president. I applaud Obama for achieving the nation’s first real health care reform (in spite of its flaws). However, back in 2008, when Obama was first running for president I pointed out that he was surrounding himself with advisers from the Clinton administration, and thus Obama’s big campaign theme of Change! was a mirage. Sadly, I turned out to be right, and Obama has turned out to be one of the most political presidents I’ve ever seen. This latest stunt is one of many. I do believe that Obama genuinely cares deeply about certain issues, gun control being one of them, but on most things it’s pure politics, H-1B/OPT being a prime example.

            For you to claim that John Miano is not battling the big tech companies is absolutely ridiculous.

            If you object to the term “self serving,” let’s replace it by the term “blinded by your own needs.” By the way, if you were to pose as an Anglo American in this forum, your English would give you away immediately, just as would occur if I were to pose as a native speaker of Chinese on 微博.

            Concerning the Syrian refugees, as they say in court, “Asked and answered.”

            I think you misunderstood me concerning the U.S. educational system. I spoke of knowing the strengths and weaknesses; note the “and.”

            You would have considered my high school to be extremely weak, thoroughly disgusting. Only about 30% of the kids went on to college; my calculus teacher had just taken calculus himself the year before I took the course from him (he had been a social sciences major in college, and later went back to take calculus); my physics teacher had failed physics twice and chemistry once when he was in college; one of the social studies teachers used wrong grammar, such as “I used to could.” Yet a number of my high school classmates did well: One became a high-level VP with HP, working directly under CEO (and now presidential candidate) Carly Fiorina; one became a reporter and producer for NBC national news; another became a computer science professor who has authored several math and CS books and is a major opponent of certain immigration policies 🙂 . I attribute part of my success to that calculus teacher who had never gone beyond calculus in school himself, and to the open, innovative culture in which I grew up.


          • @ Yi Shi

            > You may not have the exact quote. I am just paraphrasing your idea as you believe the inflow of foreigners is the source of evil.

            No, you gave a false quote. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don’t know how quotes work. When you put quotes around a phrase and attribute it to someone else, you are assumed to be quoting that person verbatim. I would advise that you stick to that in the future or you will be seen as dishonest. Also, it will keep people from wasting time searching for a quote that doesn’t exist.

            Liked by 1 person

          • 1)You seem to accuse me of displaying “:this attitude” consistently.
            If I do not hold this position, there is no point for me to have talked with you for so long and I do not understand why you have a problem with that.

            But as we have debated about that for a long time, not going to repeat myself.

            2)US is benefiting. not benefiting groups you care about but do benefit groups you hate. that is why you think “all of these is false” because by nature, you will not be nice to groups you do not like.

            3)Regarding you statement “new comers ruin people who are already there”, I again strongly disagree. You even said yourself that foreign students are innocent. You should know who is behind all of these and use foreign students as scapegoat is a shame..


          • Well, now you’re really gotten my attention. 🙂 You say to me, “US is benefiting. not benefiting groups you care about but do benefit groups you hate. that is why you think ‘all of these is false’ because by nature, you will not be nice to groups you do not like.” Please explain which groups you think I hate. I don’t hate any person or any group. This conversation cannot continue if you have this view; there would be no point to continuing.

            Since, as you point out, I’ve said the foreign students are innocent, why are you questioning me now? Maybe I should have said explicitly that Americans’ hard work is being “ruined by the hiring of the newcomers,” rather than “ruined by the newcomers”? It ought to be clear that that is what I meant.


          • By the way, when you say “new comers ruin people who are already here”, that shows you think the value of protecting people already here can only be achieved by sacrificing the value of welcoming new comers.

            That is again a fundamental difference in our understanding as I believe both values can be achieved by right method/ Your remarks and people on the other side are not using the right approach


          • This is a very Politically Correct attitude on your part, the famous slogan, “Immigration is not a zero-sum game.” Well, in this case, it really is zero-sum. Just what do you have in mind regarding “the right method”? Maybe you think the government should force employers to hire twice as many people?


          • Those groups you hate? businesses who recruit foreign students/international educators in US universities and so on. Maybe “hate” should be replaced by “reject/dislike”

            You expressed opposition very clearly in your blog posts, Do you want me to provide your quotes?

            If you really think the value of protecting people should be achieved at any cost even it means abandoning the value of welcoming new comers, that is fine but I am glad I find the final root of our differences


          • It would be good to provide me with quotes, as I believe you may have misunderstood me in some cases.

            People do things for various reasons, often because they feel forced to do so. In many cases, that force is so great that the people cope psychologically by rationalizing their behavior. So I don’t ascribe bad intentions to them, even though their actions are bringing harm to people — and I don’t hate them.

            IEEE-USA, which came up in a reader comment here today, is a perfect example. In the year 2000, the IEEE parent organization pressured IEEE-USA to tone down its criticism of the H-1B work visa. So, they replaced their staffer who had been critical of H-1B with one who is very pro-industry, and whose proposals would be equally harmful to American tech workers as H-1B. (The word “replace” here is ironic, since now IEEE-USA is making a big deal out the fact that Disney REPLACED its American ITers with foreigners.) The organization always tells Congress and the press that they represent 250,000 U.S. workers, yet they have refused to poll those 250,000 members as to whether the latter hold the same views as the “leadership.” Bad, bad, bad — but I don’t hate them, as they are doing what they are forced to do, on penalty of the organization being dissolved.

            My views about protecting those who are already here are pretty much universal. Even the politicians claim that they don’t support programs that hurt American workers.

            But don’t forget, I have two motivations here, only one of which is to protect American workers. The other, even more important, reason is to preserve the national well-being. The foreign tech worker programs are reducing the overall level of talent in the U.S., a very grave concern.


          • First of all, I have already said “hate” may not be a good word but you do have strong negative feelings about those groups who benefit from foreign students and support visa expansion.
            Still, those groups are still part of the US.


            The fact that “protecting US workers” is a universal idea does not contradict what I believe.

            My position is very clear. “Protecting US workers”/”Preserving national talent” can be achieved while US can still welcome and support foreign students.

            The problem is the other side and people like you do not agree on that.

            You think “Protecting US workers”/”Preserving national talent” can only be achieved by abandoning the value of welcoming new incomers.

            You are entitled to believe that but I disagree and I am sure a lot of US citizens disagree(Note, I never say it is not important to protect US workers or preserve national talent. I said previously “equally important” )


          • improve domestic education system, very clear and high enough wage requirements for OPT/H1b and other work visas, no work visa unless one gets education in accredited US university, campaign finance reform to get rid of money influence on politics

            also, United States should learn from Canada to have a point based immigration system.

            Although I do not like Ted Cruz, I think his immigration plan on his campaign website also has some good ideas(I am not going to copy and paste here)


          • You’ve mentioned improving the domestic education system many times, in order to produce even more STEM graduates. But you’ve never addressed the contradiction inherent to that: Why produce even more STEM graduates when the existing ones are already passed over in favor of hiring foreign students?

            The rest of your proposals essentially boil down to saying we should only take the best foreign students. So you and I actually agree. The only difference between us is that I would set the bar much higher than you would. More on this below.

            I strongly agree that setting high enough wage requirements for the foreign tech workers would mostly solve the problem. But you opposed Cruz’s $110K floor. Please give us your figure.

            There are literally thousands of colleges and universities in the U.S. (3000, last time I heard), most of them accredited. Would your plan include them all? In other words, an employer would be free to pass over a qualified American applicant as long as the foreign worker has a degree from ANY accredited U.S. college?

            Campaign reform would certainly be nice.

            A Canadian/Australian point system was proposed in the first big immigration reform movement in 2007, but it was immediately rejected by the tech industry (which I predicted). Can you guess why?


          • 1)I do not know the exact number of wage requirements but it should be the highest level in that region for similar positions.

            I oppose a 110k floor because it ignores all other differences just like I disagree federal requirement of 15 dollars an hour for minimum wage. Because 15 dollars an hour is probably a decent minimum wage in Kentucky, however I believe a minimum wage in New York should be above 20 dollars an hour.

            2) I originally thought I should add “only students from top N universities”. I did not add it in my previous post because I was afraid you would say it is impractical because schools that are not included will oppose this measure.

            But as you mentioned about 3000 universities, let us say 5% of them(I use 5% as you mentioned about 5% in your previous response) which will be the top 150.

            If you say those schools which are not included in top 150 will oppose, then that is related to how the US political system can regulate the lobbying of special interest groups.

            3) I can guess the reason the tech industry opposes a point based immigration system is because if green card is awarded by points instead of employment sponsorship, companies will lose control.

            But still point base immigration is a good system to protect US workers/preserve national talent and to still welcome foreign students who are willing to work hard.

            That is again related to how to minimize money influence on US politics


          • Wonder of wonders, you and I seem to be converging. As I said, we both agree that the policy should focus on “the best and the brightest.”

            You say you would set the wage floor at the highest level. That would be Level IV, the 67th percentile. That’s not far from the 75th percentile proposed by the DPE and endorsed by me.

            Setting the bar by wages is the easiest way. Doing so by school is a problem. You take 5% of 3000 and get 150, but most foreign students in tech get a graduate degree, and the employers claim that’s what they need. But there are probably only about, say, 300 schools offering graduate degrees in engineering. Taking 5% gives us the top 15 schools. So, do we use 3000 schools as a base or 300? Again, salary is the only reasonable way to go.

            The reason for the flat $110K floor is that too many employers currently play games, saying the foreign worker is hired at location X but soon afterward shifting him to Y.

            Yes, loss of control is undoubtedly one reason why the industry didn’t like a point system. But another reason was my favorite topic, AGE. They don’t want 35-year-old software developers, but the point system would give points for being a software developer.


        • In order to get a student visa, one has to state that he intends to return home at the end of his studies. I imagine the majority of those applying are lying as their primary reason for studying in the US is the job and the money. Based on this, why should any reputable employer want to hire an employee who has lied to the US government.

          I firmly believe that an individual on a student visa should be required to work in his home country for a period equal to the duration of his degree studies and any OPT afterwards.

          Unless those who have had the opportunity to learn First World skills outside their home country return home to contribute to their homeland’s development, there will always be countries stuck centuries behind. It is not the responsibility of citizens of developed countries to give up their lives to do what natives of the backward countries will not do.

          Liked by 1 person

          • >>> I imagine the majority of those applying are lying

            not “majority” @cathy, it will be “all” — Very nature of F-1 visa (for anyone coming here to study) is that they should intend to get back at the time of appearing for a visa interview.

            But they seamlessly transition/adjust status to a “dual intent” H-1 whilst here.


        • 1)You said :”the sense among some foreign students and immigrant STEM workers that they are doing the U.S. a favor by coming here. I’m usually pretty tolerant, but I must say frankly that this attitude is extremely annoying (and unwarranted).”

          I think we have already talked about that in greater detail before. You think foreign students have some sense of entitlement and you think without foreign students, US citizens can do an equally good or better job. We have already talked about that and I am not going to repeat myself.

          I do not think what I said previously means foreign students come here to do a favor to US. On the other hand, what I said means foreign students come here to US because of the value or idealism that one, no matter where he or she comes from, can achieve a good life as long as he or she can take efforts.

          If the US does not value this notion or abandons this value, I do not think foreign students will come. That is what I mean in the previous post.

          You on the other hand, believe protecting those already here is much more or overwhelmingly more important than paying attention to new comers. That is, in your world, the most important value of US.

          I respect that but disagree because in my view, the value of welcoming new comers who are willing to work to achieve a good life is at least equally important if not more.

          2) Regarding “taking care about US workers” is not populism, I will say the emotion of protecting “our own citizens”, when it goes to extreme and overly strong level, this will become populism in a dangerous level,

          A lot of American people who share your view are already exhibiting this trend when they shout “America is for Americans” or “get rid of foreigners”

          Populism is not necessarily bad but when it becomes very extreme, people will lose sanity and start to follow demagoguery. There are a huge number of examples there and I do not think I say anything wrong.


          • You misunderstood my point. I’m not saying the foreign students come here because they want to help the U.S.; they come here out of self-interest, which is fine. But they think the U.S. is benefiting too, because they are remedying labor shortages, because they come from a superior education system, because they are smarter, and so on. Of course, all of this is false, but they’ve drunk the Kool-aid. You have displayed this attitude consistently in your remarks in this blog.

            You say that in your view, “the value of welcoming new comers who are willing to work to achieve a good life is at least equally important if not more” than the value of protecting the economic well-being of those who are already here. That’s fine, but the real issue is that the result is that the people who are already here have worked hard to achieve a good life, only to have it ruined by the newcomers. Think about this.

            Liked by 1 person

      • 1)If I am indeed “blinded by my own needs”, I will support abolishing OPT program because as I said before, it will actually fit my needs because it reduces competition from my peers for green card.

        If I do fake an English name, I do not think I will go into a long conversation like that, I will probably just shout something such as “get rid of all foreigners!” “America is for Americans”.

        I do not think these posts will get your attention and I do not think you can tell whether these are from a foreigner or a native speaker.

        2)I never deny the strength of US education system. Otherwise, foreign students will not come to US(it is much easier to get green card in Australia or in Canada but still America has the largest population of international students) and we probably will not have the problem of OPT,

        However. although your personal story is very inspiring but it does not hurt the validity of my own observation.

        3) One thing you did not respond to me: I disagree but understand Mr Miano and Washington Alliance’s agenda.

        But as I said, their opposition to extension of deadline of OPT extension vacation does not help their lawsuit. It will only inflict harm to others. I find it is very unacceptable because they show a desire of inflicting damage to other people even if it will not help their appeal in circuit court. The logic behind their opposition can only be explained if they treat the other side as some “evil” and “dangerous” entities.

        What do you say about that?

        4) Also, do you agree that “banning all foreigners into United States to solve all the security / immigration problems in US because we cannot take a risk” is a reasonable idea?


        • Item (4): Asked and answered. See my original post on the issue, and my replies to reader comments, including in the last few days. I don’t have time to repeat myself, and do so only when I believe it is necessary.

          Item (3): The foreign students do not have a RIGHT to OPT, green cards, jobs etc. And the “harm” to them, at most, would be that they have to return to their home countries. There is nothing terrible about that. In any case, every country has its first responsibility to protect its own citizens from harm.

          Item (2): Most foreign students in CS come here for the green card, not the education. For various reasons, Australia is a much less attractive place for them to live.

          I was not presenting my story as inspiring. Instead, I am presenting it as typical. Most successful people in the U.S. attended a high school similar to mine.


          • If your unmitigated populism ideas do translate into policy and become overwhelming majority, I am sure a large proportion of foreign students will leave with no regret(no matter whether OPT exists or not) because in that case, United States will not be the country that deserves efforts for people to stay.

            Finally regarding your claim “In any case, every country has its first responsibility to protect its own citizens from harm”, throughout history, numerous humanitarian tragedies happen because of the claim “protecting our citizens from harm”,

            I am not saying countries do not have the responsibility to protect their own citizens. However, this type of idea often leads to very dangerous demagoguery. You should treat this claim at least with caution.


          • My statement stands. If you want to read more into than what I said, there is nothing I can do about that.

            Being concerned about the national well-being is not the same as populism. Keep in mind, I believe that our current policy is causing our national level of talent (innovation, insight etc.) to DECLINE. This is a very different issue from protecting U.S. workers, though obviously I am concerned about that too. A decline in talent among our tech workers would have a very grave effect on our national economy and other aspects of national well-being.


          • Forgot to mention: In your statement concerning what would happen if my views were to become U.S. policy, you say that “a large proportion of foreign students will leave with no regret(no matter whether OPT exists or not) because in that case, United States will not be the country that deserves efforts for people to stay.” This is a perfect example of something I’ve complained about several times before, the sense among some foreign students and immigrant STEM workers that they are doing the U.S. a favor by coming here. I’m usually pretty tolerant, but I must say frankly that this attitude is extremely annoying (and unwarranted).

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding one of your central argument: foreign students are not always smart/hard-working/talented->no need to retain those bad horses-> OPT is bad

    There are always bad horses in any group and yes, if you consider on average, the quality of foreign students is lowered by bad horses.

    But your forgot two things:

    1) companies are not stupid. They will recruit people based on whether one can do a job, That is the first standard. Those bad horses can hardly get a job and stay in US with or without OPT.

    2) Those bad horses do not actually care about OPT. They come from rich families who do not pay attention to good family education and they just want to wear a gold coat of “overseas study”. They do not even care about whether they finish their degree. They will still come and serve as cash cow and will leave US whether there is OPT or not.

    I can bet those people are so ignorant that they do not even know the existence of OPT because they indulge themselves in night club, drinking and playing.


    • We’ve been over this before, as you. Lots of employers hire weaker workers, because they look good on paper, and sound good in an interview. As before, I urge look at my data, which consist of people who were hired.

      I may not have made it clear in my previous statements; here is my stance: If I could write ideal legislation and if it could be passed (just IF), I would only allow the hiring of the truly outstanding foreign students. That would be something like 5% of the total.


      • There are honest mistakes, and there is “remotely plausible deniability” (but, in reality, among 95% of the population, impossible to take seriously deniability).

        Honest mistakes should fall as one becomes more experienced in hiring. With plausible deniability, the hires as viewed by an objective observer lacking the full incentive set of the hirer (or not taking it fully into account) will see the numbers of seeming “mistakes” increase, as the hirer becomes more adept at gaming the rule-set under which he operates.

        Legally penalizable age discrimination will go down as actual age discrimination increases. Ditto with discrimination on the basis of nationality, and privacy violations — every just barely legal dodge and subterfuge will be used before giving in to full-hearted compliance with the wider culture’s standards and laws. Sub-culturally discouraged “poaching” will go down while frantic pressure to poach will increase and be displaced to other aspects of the talent-seeking process until the formal or informal cartel is broken. But then the same incentives that gave rise to the anti-poaching agreements will re-emerge.

        Without knowing the incentive profiles of the hirers, it all seems irrational. It should be based on merit, on competence, industry, honesty, creativity…but usually seems not to be. The person with a “connection” — a relative, someone who went to e same school, belonged to the same honorary or fraternal association, likes the same music, likes the same hardware or OS, who lived in the hiring manager’s old “stomping grounds”… — can often snag (and keep) the job before the most intelligent, the most industrious, creative, etc.

        With the trivial pursuit tests — ostensibly aimed at selecting the most knowledgeable, most intelligent… — the people who enjoy such things, who relax and play during them, will do better on them than the “enough with the stupid games! Just let me retire to my cave and work wonders” folks, and the genius caught “like a deer in head-lights”.

        And this all drives the feeling all around of dysfunctionality in the hiring and employment processes. People keep trying the wrong things, get unsatisfying results, and get stressed out, but the vast majority aren’t aware precisely of what nearly everyone is doing wrong. And the willingness to give credence to those other ibstinately deranged people drops. No one is wiling to convey all of their concerns and personal incentives. The execs don’t want to be held criminally liable (nor financially), but they, mostly, know where they are and what they want and what they want to avoid.. The USA STEM professionals know where they are and what they want and what they want to avoid. Ditto the foreign labor. But few will openly admit it because, maybe, they fear it might harm their case for what they most want.

        No board member or investor or executive (nor, certainly their lobbyists and in-the-pocket legislators and staffers) will come out publicly to admit that he wants cheaper, younger, more pliant labor willing to move forward some perhaps ethically questionable projects. He may talk about the great savings to be expected from greater integration/aggregation of data, from “big data” & “data mining”…but won’t admit that massive and extremely abusive privacy violation is part of the package. He may make reference to a desire for higher skill levels, or for extremely specific skill-sets, but if you try to nail him down, you will, most of the time, find that he has only a vague idea of what is actually required to get the job done, or will beg off on the basis of not wanting to reveal plans on the fear that someone else will find out and beat him to the gold.


  4. I do not give much credence to NACE and college surveys. The NACE says, “the data represent actual, starting salaries (not projections) reported by graduates to their institutions.”

    “Reported by graduates” means that the NACE is only considering people who responded to the surveys.

    Here at Texas A&M University 1739 undergraduate engineering degrees were awarded in 2014. Only 756 students responded to the survey (salary, employment status, etc). This works out to a 43% response rate. The 43% rate was not included in the survey. I had to consult multiple documents and calculate the response rate.

    Grads who do not have a job and are living in their parent’s attic (no basements here in Houston) in a state of depression are perhaps less likely to respond to the survey after having wasted a lot of time and money.

    The NSF once conducted a survey of PhD STEM majors. They got about a 65% response rate.

    I think a better survey is the Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey” because failure to respond can lead to massive legal action. According to the Census, “You are legally obligated to answer all the questions, as accurately as you can. The relevant laws are Title 18 U.S.C Section 3571 and Section 3559, which amends Title 13 U.S.C. Section 221.”

    According to the American Community Survey, about half of recent college graduates do not have a job related to their major. For engineering the figure is 40%.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would have said it this way:

    “…The latest NACE data show that this trend is continuing, in spite of the increasingly loud drum-beat from the tech [executives’] lobbyists that the universities are not producing enough Computer Science grads. The mean new-grad CS wage actually fell slightly. Yet you can knock on doors on Capitol Hill all day [including the doors of senators and ‘representatives’ whose USA citizen STEM professionals have repeatedly written and called, citing anecdotes and government and non-government statistics like those from NACE] and not find a staffer who [admits to ever having heard of NACE, nor of the many USA citizen STEM professionals out of work or under-employed in other fields… even the same specific staffers with whom those citizens have spoken and corresponded deny awareness of reality]…”

    This aren’t some aggregate abstractions doing these things, they are individual human beings…pants on one leg at a time, up to 2 eyes, one mouth, have to eat, drink, sleep…who have people they love & people they hate…people who they think are helping them get what they want and people who at least seem to be in the way of them getting what they want. It is individual human beings making decisions and doing these things. The tech industry is manifold, not monolithic — left-wingers, right-wingers, libertarians, investors, board members, executives, software designers, hardware engineers, graphic artists, writers, coders, security guards, receptionists, maintenance, lawyers, janitors, marketeers, gardeners, tech support, sales… All kinds.

    Each individual is — and should be held — responsible for his own actions…including the act of saying things which are obviously false.


  6. Where does the NACE data show a decline in mean new grad CS wages?

    Figure 1 : Projected average salaries by discipline, bachelor’s degrees – in the linked article/web page gives:

    Broad Category Average 2016 Average 2015

    Computer Science $61,321 $61,287

    This is a slight, tiny increase, although surely a drop adjusting for inflation. If the drop is after adjusting for inflation, the blog post should explain that the drop is inflation-adjusted.




  7. The Intels have a short time frame in which to con the government. The ‘Teach coding in schools’ idea will ultimately backfire on them as more Americans are encouraged to go into coding jobs. Along the same time, the current generation of F1 students will get their green cards and be judged ‘too expensive’ and realise they’ve been duped.

    BTW, TCS has awful hiring practises in India. Basically, when you get hired, you have to sign a bond which states that you may not leave within 2 years without paying them a certain amount of money, around $800 which is a lot for the average Indian. Infosys does this too.


    • People have been saying “teach coding in the schools” for years. It’s just a ruse.

      Yes, the Infosyses have been known to sign workers to contracts like that. Some have been successfully challenged in court in the U.S.


      • “Teach coding in schools” is more than just a ruse. It’s insidious in that it is basically CHILD LABOR. If the industry expects kids to “learn coding in schools”, that is on the job training. That is actually UNPAID on the job training. It’s child labor.


          • The industry would LOVE to hire the kids. The younger the better. The industry will start some apprenticeship programs under the guise of “experience for education credits” so they can have access to very very very cheap child labor, in the same way that UC courses allow for this. It’s a fact that the UC curriculum is allowing students to pay tuition to give away value via “project courses” by working in the industry for course credit. Students are essentially paying money to work for the industry. The industry has the mindset that if one has interest in computer science, that person is exploitable no matter how young they are. Forcing computer science in schools is a slippery slope towards child labor. No one should be learning the details of LOGO or javascript or some other soon to be obsolete industry tool while in school.


        • For the short version regarding IEEE-USA, see my remarks to Yi Shi earlier today. I’ll be posting a longer version in a few days, when I get time.

          As to the OSC, the Obama administration has consistently shown itself to be quite biased in these issues.


        • Notice the massive one comment following the IEEE article. IEEE has never been an effective advocate for its individual members, especially not for its American members. IEEE-USA is *supposed* to, but they have a problem since IEEE overall is supposed to be geography-neutral, international. IEEE’s committees and management tend to be corporate oriented and not in any way practicing engineers or directly involved with engineering activities. Not to say they couldn’t be useful, but I agree with Norm, at the very least be very careful and read very carefully anything they do or say on these issues.


      • Amen.
        Folks, the very people that are attempting to get you to sign this petition are the same people that created the H-1B visa that forced you out of work.

        and if they succeed, this means they will be responsible for forcing you from work once again using the same green card holders that were initially brought here as H-1B’s.

        They simply are expediting the processing of the H-1B;s that are currently in limbo.
        For what reasons?
        I don’t know, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts at Keep America At work


  8. Funny that you think you are qualified to judge who is qualified and who is not? How you know what are the criteria that company XXX looking when hiring people? BTW CEO of both Microsoft and Google are former foreign students


    • If you have been reading this blog, you should know that (a) I don’t trust company XXX and (b) in terms of who is judge, I want the MARKET to be the judge: If a foreign worker has a salary offer in the top range, he/she should get a work visa.

      As to CEOs, since there are a lot of former foreign students working in the industry, it follows that some of them will eventually become CEOs. What’s the big deal?


  9. A couple of things:
    1. if the judge in the OPT lawsuit granted DHS’ request for an extension, it seems like she is already on their side. So scenarios 2 or 3 are probably what happened.

    2. Carnegie Mellon getting money from Tata/TCS is a big sign of cronyism & corruption that is done by Indians who have infiltrated the US system not only in business (company executives) but also in education. As the article noted, the president of Carnegie Mellon is an Indian – Subra Suresh – as seen in this photo of the signing of agreement:

    There exists a huge Indian business organization that is as corrupt & power hungry as they come. It’s called “The Indian Entrepreneur” or TIE. These people are largely responsible for deep hooks that Indian IT businesses have in the US system.


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