Washington Post Editorial Gets It Wrong Every Which Way

Following the lead of the New York Times, the Washington Post has now adopted the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad stance: They say Indian rent-a-programmer firms like Infosys abuse the H-1B work visa, while the mainstream firms like Intel — in the case of the Jeff Bezos-owned Post, firms like Amazon — use the program responsibly. But not only do both the Intels and Infosyses abuse the system, but the Post has its other facts all wrong as well.

The de facto indentured servitude referred to in the editorial actually occurs with the Intels, not the Infosyses. The editorial board is drawing upon a piece published last week by their writer Tracey Jan, who misunderstood one of the people she interviewed, Amit Kapoor. He was referring to H-1B workers who are simultaneously being sponsored for green cards, which the Intels generally do, but which the Infosyses rarely do.

In other words, the Post is unwittingly showing that in actuality it’s Intels Bad, Infosyses Bad (though for different reasons).

The Post is also incorrect about that now-famous $60,000 figure, which the paper says allows the Infosyses to pay below prevailing wage. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Every employer of H-1Bs must pay the prevailing wage. The prevailing wage itself is set too low, but the $60K figure has no bearing on this.

The Post says, “As a candidate, Donald Trump talked out of both sides of his mouth” about H-1B. Not true — unfortunately. Starting with his first pronouncements on H-1B in August 2015 (not 2016), Trump has consistently taken an Intels Good, Infosyses Bad stance. I don’t like it, but he has been entirely consistent.

The Post writes,”…there is no doubt that U.S. colleges and universities cannot keep up with the demand for graduates, especially with advanced and highly specialized degrees.” Where are the Post fact checkers when we need them?

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74 thoughts on “Washington Post Editorial Gets It Wrong Every Which Way

  1. Nice commentary, Norm! As a former Washington Post subscriber when I lived in the National Capitol Region, I would rate the Washington Post editorial on H-1Bs as “4 Pinocchios” (Per Glenn Kessler’s “Fact Checker” articles, that corresponds to assertions without factual basis.) 😐

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  2. Are there stats showing the number of STEM graduates in the U.S. each year, by degree, degree level, and nationality? How do these stats compare with the number of STEM job openings? It seems like news sources should be showing charts of numbers, not declaring “there is no doubt”. Also, how about including the charts showing the number of STEM layoffs per year? By combining fresh-outs with layoffs, that would give a more accurate picture of the STEM worker situation than just making broad, sweeping statements (that news outlets seem ever more likely to prefer).

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    • The Education Digest, an online government publication, should have that data. But a much more direct argument is to simply point out that wages are not going up much, thus countering the claim of a shortage.

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    • You can find some of the sources that have been used for number of STEM graduates and number of STEM job openings in the analysis of one oft-cited comparison at http://econdataus.com/claim400k.htm . The following is from the Summary section:

      > The 400,000 projection of computer science graduates appears to have come from extrapolating the 2010 figure and has proven to be significantly low. It appears that the BLS did project nearly 1.4 million computer science-related jobs for 2010-2020 but that projection has dropped for later 10-year periods and may need to be revised. In any event, these two numbers come from different sources and a BLS economist states that comparing the two is an “incorrect comparison”.

      The Washington Post editorial also mentions a “frequently cited figure of 500,000 unfilled positions”. As described at http://econdataus.com/claim600k.htm , its sole source appears to be proprietary data from Burning Glass Technologies that cannot be examined or verified. Of course, readers do not know how flimsy the support for this number is since the source is rarely given. Hence, I follow the policy of ignoring all data that is not sourced.

      Regarding data about layoffs, I’ve long wondered if anyone has tried to quantify the number of layoffs and the percentage of those workers (especially older workers) who never reenter the tech workforce. I have not yet come across any such data.

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    • The federal government is also supposed to report, annually, I believe, to Congress on the number of H1-Bs in the country. As far as I know, USCIS has never done this.

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    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has several matrices of employment including new and replacement over 10 years. (BLS)

      The National Center for Educational Statistics has data on graduates. (NCES)

      The ASEE has “Engineering by the Numbers” based on the NCES data but presented well. (ASEE)

      I am interested in engineering primarily. I recall only civil engineering being anywhere near the graduates approximating needs. All others have graduates exceeding (sometimes significantly) needs for new and replacement.

      What complicates the analysis is that the two databases are inconsistent. BLS data is not just for 4 year+ degree jobs.

      What people do not consider is that there are many STEM jobs that do not require a 4 year degree. In my area, high school students can go to vo-tech half a day and graduate with the skills for an entry level computer support job. It is laughable that there are H-1Bs for web developers, and my granddaughter’s middle school offers a web programming class for 7th and 8th graders. He dad (an EE) is teaching her Java for the past couple of years (she is now 11).

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      • We’ve seen lots of famous people in the CS field without a CS degree, in many cases no degree at all. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison are well-known cases.

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        • Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg were all dropouts. So were many of the early people on the Mac team at Apple. Many of the best programmers are self-taught. Creativity is more important than knowledge.

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        • Creative – especially ADHD – people do not always do well in the structured environments in schools. It is a shame that now it is necessary to even get passed the screening for a position without a degree.

          One of the biggest positive changes that I see in K-12 education are the online school opportunities. I hope these continue so that children who are likely to drop out of traditional programs can at least meet the basic standards of a high school diploma.

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          • I was a horrible student – barely graduating college and no advanced degree. But I ended up working at Apple and Sony and helped to create Playstation. Guess I’m just not good enough for jobs because I have trouble finding one.

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  3. I would like to approach the H1B controversy from a totally different angle. Having worked on Wall St. I am familiar with the scandals emanating from the industry. One of the biggest was the Galleon insider trading scandal, a scandal made possible by the extensive network of Indian professionals colluding on Wall St. and in Silicon Valley. The Galleon case highlighted the Indian connections, on both coasts, that made it possible for a mediocre trader to become a billionaire, and for many other Indians in Silicon Valley to cash in as well.

    My familiarity with this scandal leads me to suspect, that no one in the H1B controversy, is concentrating on the possibilities for intellectual property theft this program can facilitate. When all the costs are added up I think this will be the biggest. I don’t think it will be long before an H1B worker goes home with the company jewels, and good luck getting them back.

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    • Concerning the scandal, some of the characters were more guilty than others. I don’t condone any of what happened, but I believe that Raj Gupta was not guilty of anything more than bad judgment in helping a friend. I highly recommend the book “The Billionaire’s Apprentice,” by Anita Raghavan for a more nuanced look at the scandal. Again, I am not absolving anyone of guilt, nor does the book.

      You can forget about the intellectual property argument. The companies don’t care! To them, it’s just a cost of doing business.

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    • Yes! In fact I watched it happen. I lived 3 blocks from Apple when the invasion started in ’98. After they collapsed Silicon Valley in 2001 by not performing as promised (they killed Sun, PeopleSoft, just to name a few), they all then fled to Wall St for high paying jobs. Want to know who REALLY caused the 2008 collapse? GUESS WHO! AND I can prove it:

      – Wipro sold a flawed trading package SPECTRAMIND to none other than Lehman, which then went belly up and died because it could no longer make correct program trades and lost billions.

      – CountryWide Mortgage sent all its loan processing work to India in 2007 – which then allowed “subprime” loans to be approved. CountryWide had to be bailed out.

      – Bear Sterns also hired huge numbers of them. Gone.

      – Citibank’s Indian CEO Vikram “The Bandit” Pandit mismanaged the company so badly it also had to be bailed out.

      – An Indian national STEM worker at Fannie Mae planted a logic bomb on FM servers designed to wipe the entire company out. FM hired many Indian STEM workers. Had to be bailed out. The logic bomber is now in prison:

      http://www.networkcomputing.com/networking/fannie-mae-contractor-indicted-logic-bomb/1916287433

      And then there is the fact that most of the housing crisis was caused by mortgage-paying Americans losing their jobs to non-mortgage paying foreign guest workers. Loans that were fine in the 90s suddenly became “subprime”.

      Boeing lost several million and was sued by ANA Japan for late delivery of the 787. The cause? HCL’s FAILED ES OS which the FAA told Boeing to throw out because it was unsafe for flight. HCL was banned from ever working on the project again:

      https://www.aol.com/article/2009/08/20/is-the-boeing-787s-electrical-system-working/19135085/

      Not exactly cost savings is it? The ANA lawsuit cost Boeing millions more.

      An India Inc also caused the nationwide 2005 Christmas day airport shutdown when Indian programmers used a short int instead of a long int on ComAir’s crew reservation system which then crashed when flight crew assignments exceeded the 65,353 value that a short int can hold. Best and brightest. How much did THAT fiasco cost the American public and companies?

      The list is a mile long. Disaster and failure seems to follow these people everywhere they go. How much longer will USA tolerate this non-performance?

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      • @Glob.

        Your analysis seems to be flawed.

        It suffers from ‘Survivorship Bias’ –

        As quote high profile incidents and anec-data to justify your hunch.
        On the other hand, having worked in software for some time – I am still a student; I say (from anec-data) that most programming projects do not need sophisticated knowledge and are mostly CRUD apps. Companies have realized and continue to make use of off-shoring because of the sheer amount of savings.

        I can confidently say that there have been far more unreported/sensationalized outsourcing successes than failures. It is very hard to wean US corporations off of out-sourcing.

        -International Student!

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        • How is it “Survivorship Bias”? If anything it’s the opposite. I am focusing on those that didn’t survive, not on those that did.

          If you can provide any examples of “US company X saved $A million by outsourcing job Y to offshore company Z” then by all means provide them.

          The reason we don’t hear of more failures is because companies are afraid to expose their failures publicly.

          For example as the delays for Boeing 787 dragged on into several years Boeing never publicly said “Well we waited for HCL to finish the ES OS for years only to discover after FAA inspection that it was unusable and had to be thrown out and done over by Americans” (which is what actually happened). No major US corporation is going to admit something like that. Instead they put up with the failures, trying to make them work until forced. Not until the ANA lawsuit for non-delivery did Boeing finally fire HCL. It had to then because the problem had become public.

          There are many more such failures that have been documented elsewhere and the list is quite extensive. And those are just the cases we know about. There are surely many others that are never discovered.

          The data I provided is not a “hunch” or mere “anecdotal evidence”. CountryWide really did send all its loan processing work to India in 2007 and then had to be bailed out because too many “subprime loans” were approved (by offshored staff in India who shouldn’t have approved them). Lehman really DID buy the flawed SPECRTAMIND package from Wipro which didn’t work and made bad trades causing Lehman to lose billions. Lehman was massively profitable before that. Fannie Mae really DID hire an Indian-national logic bomber who is now serving 12 years in a Federal pen because he tried to sabotage servers.

          There is a mile-long list of once-successful companies that offshored work, or hired H1B staffing firms, filled up with such workers and then either had serious problems or died completely. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes in person as well. For example Sun Micro and PeopleSoft in the 90s. Correlation data, from any source is not irrelevant.

          Consider also that in early 1998 when American workers ran everything, the US economy was experiencing its longest productive expansion in its entire history, the economy was near perfect, booming, with full employment, zero crises, zero banking or mortgage problems, tax surpluses, and very few problems in general. Company or project failure in the 1990s was virtually unheard of. But not today. Quality was also much higher then.

          The fact is that foreign workers and offshoring have NOT performed as promised. They have not kept the US economy going, there have been massive failures in many places, the 2001 and 2008 collapses just being the big ones, and many once great US companies that employed 100,000s of people no longer exist.

          The FAA was so shocked at the quality of HCL’s work on the 787 that it had to BAN the company from ever working on the project again. We only heard about the cause of the 787 delays on one tiny obscure AOL web page from someone who worked on the project. Companies generally don’t allow outsiders in to measure actual data for scientific analysis but we can clearly see a repeated pattern connected with outsourcing and foreign staffing firms.

          Last week Singapore banned all foreign Indian professional visas BY COUNTRY. A few years ago World Bank banned them specifically by country because of rampant data theft. These are not isolated incidents.

          HCL is currently being sued this very moment by US brewery MillerCoors for $100 million for a failed SAP project. HCL’s Indian CEO Vinny Nayar just resigned last week. How many other unknown failure skeletons does HCL have in its closet? $100 million is not chump change for a US company to lose. Boeing lost tens of millions in the ANA suit ($20 mil I think it was), plus all the $ lost it paid to HCL for a failed OS. This is NOT saving US companies money or cutting costs. It’s costing companies MORE.

          The reality is most of the offshoring hype is NASSCOM/India Inc paid PR hype designed to drive jobs and work there because India desperately needs them. There is NO law in the US currently that prevents any foreign entity from hiring a US PR firm and pumping “news” stories into US media. In fact, this is how all PR works in the US.

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          • My all time favorite programming disaster was the Knight Capital loss of half a billion dollars in 30 minutes. The company declined to name the people responsible, but I heard it was the cheap foreign labor, that put them out of business.

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          • Sorry I wasn’t as clear with my reply; as I would have liked to be. Thank you for your reply.

            Let me clarify myself.

            I define the success of an off-shored IT project as its completion within the reasonable budget and time line, contracted and set forth. When that happens, it is NOT a newsworthy event. It is hardly anything remarkable, so we have no news stories or reports – just cold hard SAVINGS.

            On the other hand, when failures occur. Especially the kind that affect the business to a large extent; the shareholders demand that the CEO resign, news outlets pick up on this juicy failure etc.

            As a result, the mainstream sources (which inform your position on this issue) are littered with stories that over-represent the failures of off-shoring and hiring foreign labor. To base our deductions on these stories alone leads to ‘Survivorship Bias’.

            ‘Survivorship Bias’ is the logical fallacy where a person concentrates on available data to back up his claims while not realizing that large volume of ‘contrarian data’ is not available or being studied.

            I hope this clarifies my argument. Thank you for the civil debate.

            -International Student

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          • @International Student

            > I define the success of an off-shored IT project as its completion within the reasonable budget and time line, contracted and set forth. When that happens, it is NOT a newsworthy event. It is hardly anything remarkable, so we have no news stories or reports – just cold hard SAVINGS.

            I disagree with your definition. Simply because a project is completed, as you defined it, does not mean it was successful nor resulted in any savings. In my experience, the true success or failure of a software project will be fully realized about a year after it is delivered. I can produce the worst code on time and within budget, but when it is deployed in the field and defect reports are being generated left and right, I don’t know if my employer will consider the unforeseen maintenance costs as a cost savings.

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          • Glob,

            >the true success or failure of a software project will be fully realized about a year after it is delivered – Glob

            Even with the above metric, when an outsourcing project is indeed successful – no organization will put out a press release or make enough noise for media outlets to notice. Also, most contracts have a support addendum that gets renewed every 5 or 7 years.

            The many cases you present do not even represent 10% of the sample space of all current and past outsourcing projects in USA. Put simply, you are reading from a non-random sample – skewing your results (in your favor). Building on that fact…

            Offshoring successes have been a silent majority over these publicized failures. This is precisely the reason why almost every large US corp (after having tasted offshoring via. service firms) has a captive India dev center; such brand-name dev offices have been running for over 6 years now. China is also catching up with this value proposition.

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        • International Student,

          I think it is true that most student ‘programming projects do not need sophisticated knowledge and are mostly CRUD apps’. I don’t think this is the case at the enterprise level although there are a lot of CRUD apps like member/customer databases. The incidents that Glob mentioned are more towards the ‘mission critical’ enterprise apps and systems so they require much higher level of quality standards. Even a CRUD app like the ComAir example where a short int was used instead of a long int would need higher quality standards like tigher data validation, etc.

          TechPro

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      • Glob,

        If these are all factual events then this post is like ‘the shot heard around the world’. It blows me away to come to this conclusion. We’ve all been sold on the story of greedy bankers creating CDOs and CDSs based on ‘liar’s loans’ – the toxic investments.

        I did read a post in here by VBiersch that also listed a long list of these failures.

        If you can package up this post along with what Virgil posted and include links to credible news orgs then post it on a highly trafficked site like Medium or even just HackerNews, we fellow readers can blow it up and give it a lot more exposure. Who knows, maybe if it gets enough attention, writers from BusinessInsider, Breitbart or even HuffPo might even cover it.

        TechPro

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        • I did post it on Slashdot, Hacker News, and Brietbart. Of course racism cries went up immediately.

          https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8046606

          Most poo-pooed the idea and said it was impossible.

          Yet I watched it step by step happen.

          The news sources are documented all over the web if one searches.

          For example, a Google of “787 Dreamliner HCL FAA fail” yields:

          https://www.aol.com/article/2009/08/20/is-the-boeing-787s-electrical-system-working/19135085/

          Which clearly shows HCL botched the 787 ES OS which led to delivery delays, which caused ANA to sue them, which caused huge costs for Boeing.

          I also had friends who worked at Sun at the time. They watched the foreign workers roll in, Americans got pushed out, and sure enough, Sun went bye-bye.

          One of the Fannie Mae Indian IT subcontractors is now sitting jail for trying to sabotage 4000 FM servers:

          https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/08/fannie_mae_logic_bomb_conviction/

          The Lehman/CountryWide connections were also clearly visible.

          MillerCoors is suing HCL for $100m for another failed project:

          http://upperedge.com/sap/millercoors-files-100m-suit-hcl-flawed-sap-implementation-know-like-know/

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          • I checked out your HN post – it has the same title as Virgil’s on KAAW and it’s basically the same list – here’s the link (http://keepamericaatwork.com/companies-ruined-or-almost-ruined-by-imported-indian-labor/), although it’s missing now (404).

            I can’t believe your post only got two responses – both accusing you of racism. Maybe b/c you just had a link instead of pasting the whole list with links to credible media sources like what you did in your posts above with AOL, The Register, etc. You mentioned Lehman and CountryWide but didn’t provide links. I realize it’s a lot of work. Also, HN and Slashdot have a lot of left wingers and libertarians who will quickly give your post negative karma even if the evidence is there in the news. I see them arguing back with ‘this is racist or scapegoating’. Altman himself is pro-H1B and anti-Trump.

            How did your Breitbart post do – did it fare better? As I think about this more, I don’t think any of the mainstream media channels nowadays would cover it – it’s just too controversial and non-PC to be accusing Indians of these failures.

            I do think this list is valuable to present to three of the agencies that President Trump mentioned in his EO (the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security) to review & evaluate the immigration system. If these incompetent workers are endangering critical systems, then it is an issue of national security. Not only should they be not allowed to come in and work on our systems, their visa should be revoked immediately and they should stop work immediately.

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          • >> non-PC to be accusing Indians of these failures

            It has become an fashion (lately) to blame India or Timbuktu for all the failures in our alphabet visa system. In particular, for employment based visas/greencards, we need to put the blame where it belongs – Employers and Immigration Lawyers. In other words, its the “root cause”. Until *we* fully realize this, we will be running in circles all day long – calling someone a racist/snowflake/what-not.

            Now, who’s the first to reply on my note saying “No, I am not blaming this nation or that race” ? 🙂

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          • >> we need to put the blame where it belongs – Employers and Immigration Lawyers. In other words, its the “root cause”.

            Agreed but I’d like to add to the list 🙂 I understand that employers want to save money and are shortsighted enough to be fine hiring inexperienced or incompetent workers and may or may not realize that this raises the risk of the project or system failing. Immigration Lawyers want to make money. I do want to point out that somewhere in that story (titled “Companies ruined or almost ruined by imported Indian labor”) is the mention of the Indian tech industry (referred to as ‘India Inc’ and its lobby, NASSCOM) is their active involvement in PR hype of the ‘talent shortage’. One of the links to that story is here:

            http://www.theapricity.com/forum/showthread.php?101245-Companies-ruined-or-almost-ruined-by-imported-Indian-labor

            and an excerpt is this:

            In late 1998, India (and the rest of the world) sat up and took notice of the huge amount of wealth America’s tech workers were generating. India decided they wanted to take over what Americans had created and get the $ for themselves. But how? Answer: Public Relations of course! So India’s IT lobby, NASSCOM, hired D.C. PR/lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton to plant fake “worker shortage” stories in the U.S. media in 1998. While most Americans were busy enjoying the fruits of their labors, India was plotting how to invade and take over America. This barrage of news alleging a worker shortage story was the vehicle by which India, Inc. convinced America to permit the next step:

            >> Until *we* fully realize this, we will be running in circles all day long – calling someone a racist/snowflake/what-not.

            True, this approach will not be productive.

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          • Glob,

            I think a better way to present this is as a personal story mixed with a chronological documentary format. You say that you personally watched it happen step by step. I myself would like to hear your story of working at Apple and Sony and helping to create Playstation. Talk about your friends at Sun. I think something like this would be well received on Medium or similar content sites.

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  4. The origin of the $60K figure is a little hazy in my mind. Did it originate with the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 that exempted H-1B-dependent employers (and employers found to have willfully violated the laws or regulations of H-1B) from the otherwise required attestations of non-displacement, recruitment, and hiring of US citizens and permanent residents provided they received $60K or more per annum or had at least a master’s degree equivalent or higher in the specialty field of the job?

    Am I correct that technically all H-1B employers are still required to pay the so-called “prevailing wage” determined in any way they think reasonable but that as a practical matter, given that salary information is generally private and the government cannot initiate an H-1B investigation without a complaint?

    Could someone please clarify and correct any of my mistakes or inaccuracies?

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    • I left out the completion of my penultimate sentence, which should have read:

      “Am I correct that technically all H-1B employers are still required to pay the so-called “prevailing wage” determined in any way they think reasonable but that as a practical matter (given that salary information is generally private and the government cannot initiate an H-1B investigation without a complaint) the $60K figure still offers employers protection?

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      • No, THE $60K FIGURE IS ENTIRELY UNRELATED TO PREVAILING WAGE. It is only pertains to an exception to the U.S. recruitment requirement imposed on H-1B-dependent employers.

        To answer your question regarding “any way they think reasonable,” the employer has two choices in claiming prevailing wage: Either use a private survey or use the Dept. of Labor figures. The latter are treated as “safe harbor,” meaning automatic approval.

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    • The $60K figure was set in the 1998 legislation, which was the first one to expand H-1B. So the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad argument was being used even then.

      The 2004 legislation changed the DOL prevailing wage system. Previously it had just 2 levels, which the act changed to 4. Of course, the lowest of the 4 was lower than the lower of the 2! In other words, the change was made specifically to further enable abuse, and the AILA had been pushing for the change. Now get this: IEEE-USA ENDORSED THIS CHANGE.

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    • Salary information is not private. H1B law says the LCA stating the salary MUST be posted clearly within the office where the H1B is working. And DHS/ICE can still decide to raid any company at any time and inspect or demand any LCA. Fraud is always a crime and the gov’t has broad powers to investigate and prosecute fraud.

      Besides, flooding the labor market drives down the “prevailing wage” which companies can then pay at a lower rate because it’s now lower than before flooding the market. That is one reason there is no enforcement: enforcement and deportation would reduce the labor supply, allowing the prevailing wage to rise and corporate business lobbies are NOT going to allow that to happen.

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      • Technical note: The salary on the LCA is not necessarily the actual salary of that worker. In fact, the employer might not even have a specific worker in hand at the time of filing the LCA. The employer is only promising to pay the worker at least that much.

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        • true, but I have heard of many instances where the worker has layer upon layer of so called managers who all take a cut of their wages leaving them getting paid far less than the wage that the LCA says they will be paid.

          Factor in “benching” and “claw backs” and some of these folks are living on not much more than 25 to 35K

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          • Doesn’t matter. The industry PR people think the reason you don’t have a job is that the Infosyses replace Americans, when in fact you haven’t been replaced. As I have said many times, if the Infosyses were outright banned today, that wouldn’t get you a job, because the companies have other access to foreign workers, e.g. direct hiring, renting from IBM etc., not to mention Staple a Green Card if it goes through.
            By pointing out differences between the Infosyses and the Intels (which, yes, do exist), you are playing right into the hands of the Intels’ PR machine.

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          • That is indeed happening. See KUMAR EXCLUSIVE’s video on YouTube about “Illegal, unethical, unlawful layers”. Apparently at India Incs this is much more prevalent than known. Many “middlemen” make up to 50% off the client billing rate. These middle layers are completely illegal under H1B laws and possibly under L1.

            Many other layers make micro-amounts such as $1.45 off each hour worked.

            I’ll have to find the link to the video where he makes an analysis of the entire racket.

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  5. > The Post writes,”…there is no doubt that U.S. colleges and universities cannot keep up with the demand for graduates, especially with advanced and highly specialized degrees.” Where are the Post fact checkers when we need them?

    Yes, it’s hard to believe that any self-respecting journalist would write that “there is no doubt” (or “it is well known” or “experts say”, etc.) and provide no sources to back up such a broad assertion. In fact, you can simply google the contention and find that there is EXTREME doubt in many sectors. For example, at http://econdataus.com/stemshortage.htm , I googled the term “shortage of STEM-related workers” (without the quotes) and found that about half of the links expressed doubt about the existence of such a shortage.

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    • Since this was an editorial and not a news article, it is OK to write “there is no doubt.” But even in an editiorial, it is NOT OK to write such a thing without carefully looking in to the topic beforehand, which as you say would be easy enough to do. This is especially true when one is writing a piece that supports the newspaper’s owners views. 🙂

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  6. What would you tell someone considering the kind of degrees where their jobs are subject to H-1B competition? Are there a substantial risks of considerable periods of unemployment during their working lives especially, as they grow older? If so, how should the value of such degrees be calculated?

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      • What things help keep people consistently employed in rapidly evolving industries? Is it possible to keep up with current trends while working? And is age discrimination something that can be avoided?

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        • One strategy is to choose an area in which even clueless employers can see experience really matters, such as computer security. Another one is to constantly move; if you are now using technology X and see that Y may be coming in but doesn’t have a labor market yet, and try to find something that uses both X and Y, getting hired for X but allowing a transition to Y. Having an extensive network of people who know your high value is also quite beneficial.

          An option, of course, is to become an independent consultant, but it too suffers from the large foreign influx.

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          • Hi Norman,
            Interesting information. Is there any computer discipline that has a shortage of workers?

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          • The most long-lasting career strategy is pretty simple.

            “The lesser you work with your hands, the better.”

            Like Matloff said, you need a career where experience is valued.
            AND
            Experience is necessary. <- My addition

            This includes management, surgery, law, being an academic, politics, diplomacy etc.
            Usually, fields where the problems are fuzzy and open to wild interpretations. It also helps to have a licensing body that chokes supply and mandates apprenticeships. Sorry, computing professions do not fit these pre-requisites.

            The harder your skills get, the easier they are to outsource. Goodluck.

            -International Student

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          • The problem is that in the tech area, employers do not realize how valuable experience is.

            In any case, though, even if experience were to have NO value, it would not be justified to hire a foreign student in lieu of an equally- or better-qualified older American.

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        • 35 and you’re out. Make and save everything while you’re young. Live in a van to do so if necessary. Once you hit 40 you will never be hired again.

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  7. Jeff and others, the best advice I can give any veteran IT workers is to find a gov’t job in a low cost city or state. Do the research and find a good organization.

    After 30+ years in private IT jobs, I held my libertarian-leaning nose and went for a job with the state of Oregon. To my surprise and luck, I landed in an organization that is very well-managed, is trying to improve themselves and the people want to work! I have met many state workers and very few state employees if you catch my drift – the opposite of what I found in my native state of California. I’m protected by a union, although I keep my politics quiet at union meetings and have great benefits. Our group just finished a major database upgrade and was congratulated by some private companies we deal with. They thought we had done a better than job that most private firms.

    Norm also thanks for all your hard work. Its nice to engage in intelligent conversations with someone from the other side of the political fence.

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    • > Jeff and others, the best advice I can give any veteran IT workers is to find a gov’t job in a low cost city or state. Do the research and find a good organization.

      I believe I’ve seen similar advice from Prof. Matloff at one time or another. After 20 years in the private sector, I’ve given up and have been pursuing this route. After eight months, I’ve learned that the government of my home state of Florida is just as unwelcoming to Americans as the private sector.

      In the state capital of Tallahassee, there are very few direct-hire IT positions within the government (and most of those are sys admin jobs; hands-on software development work is a rarity). The majority of the state IT work is outsourced. Tallahassee is filled with their own brand of Intels and Infosyses. I consider the “Intels” to be shops started by US citizens at least 20+ years ago that have typically hired Americans (usually recent FSU grads), but as of late, have been hiring more and more H-1Bs. The “Infosyses” are typically started by former H-1Bs within the last 10 years who were originally hired by one of the “Intels” and have experience dealing with the government. They almost exclusively hire H-1Bs with a few Americans thrown in to act as “mentors” (these job descriptions literally read “your primary responsibility is to mentor junior developers”).

      Unbelievably, the relatively small city of Tallahassee has over 1,700 H-1Bs (the majority are in IT, but FSU and FAMU alone account for almost 400 positions). That, in and of itself, is almost 1% of the city’s population (~186,000). Throw in the L-1s, H-4 spouses, and OPTs from FSU, and we are probably pushing closer to 1.5%.

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      • I agree. BUT there’s one little problem with this:

        If a country is made up entirely of:

        1) Gov’t workers

        2) Foreign private workers who do nothing but remit to home countries and pay little taxes

        3) Super-rich corporate execs

        The country WILL collapse. This is just what happened in the Soviet Union and it spelled the country’s demise.

        An econ must have balance – enough middle class private workers, just enough gov’t workers to make the gov’t run, and execs and leaders.

        Extreme imbalances lead to extreme collapse.

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      • I left Florida last year, forced out by the high rents. I remember Gov. Scott promised to create 700K jobs as a campaign promise. I guess he forgot to mention he meant for immigrants only. I wish I could be surprised but after Jeb stuffed the state pension fund with Lehman Brothers junk, I’m not. Who do these people really represent, certainly not the voters.

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  8. Hi Guys,
    Interesting news: Trump Orders Legal review of outsourcing visa programs.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/04/17/h-1b-donald-trump-orders-legal-review-outsourcing-visa-programs/

    Looks like this legal review will set the stage for legislative reforms. And its going to be interesting to watch if the H1-b spouse work authorisation i.e h-4 will stand upto the legal scrutiny. H-4 visa and the OPT extension are going to get some serious legal scrutiny.

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    • I hope I am wrong, but I would be quite surprised if the Trump people do something about the OPT extension. They will either leave it as is and/or push for Staple a Green Card. Trump has consistently supported the notion of Intels Good, Infosyses Bad.

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  9. I hear you. The Michigan government IT departments, which prides itself on not outsourcing, has whole departments that are Indian and seemed to be hiring from temporary Indian workers who were filling in the gaps due to their hiring freeze.

    The federal government IT is heavily Indian but varies by agency. They are mostly contractors. DOD is still hiring and I heard they do not prefer Indian contractors unlike most federal agencies.

    New Wash Post article on H1B: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/04/17/after-a-series-of-flip-flops-trump-prepares-to-deliver-on-a-key-campaign-pledge/?utm_term=.355070ae0f47&wpisrc=nl_most-draw5&wpmm=1

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    • Those ethnic Indians may be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, not H-1Bs etc.I would mention, though, that in the tech area there is a lot of ethnic hiring, i.e. people “hiring their own.”

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      • Indeed. In fact it might be argued by some that visa or non-visa is not the real problem, but rather peoples’ intent – nepotism, tribalism, and “mafia” (gang) type behavior that is the true problem.

        And this behavior often violates EEOC laws.

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  10. I have researched the H1B program and written a thesis on the program comparing H1B salary with native salary by region and occupation. I found that there was a 10000 – 8000 $ discrepancy in STEM occupations, but that H1B holders were actually paid higher in non stem fields like banking. Since I only had a partially complete skill level variable, all of this difference could be attributed to differences in skill level, so that the petitioning employers could have cited lower skilled jobs on average than jobs held by americans, and were legally allowed to pay less than the average wage in the region and occupation.

    Assuming that H1B immigrants are working at a discount, how do you think that companies “pay less” for H1B holders, given that by law employers have to pay the given prevailing wage. Some possibilities are that the prevailing wage is set too low, companies lie about prevailing wage or actual wage on their petitions or use their own surveys with lower numbers, companies say that their job is lower skilled than it actually is to get a lower prevailing wage. Assuming that the difference i found is not totally due to lower skilled jobs on average, which of these explanations, or another, do you think is the way that companies get around the prevailing wage.

    Also, what are your opinions on the Trump administration’s changes. If H1B employers are somehow getting around the the prevailing wage requirement to pay immigrants less, making these employees high skill rather than low skill would just mean that higher skilled H1B holders are being underpaid instead of lower skilled h1bs.

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    • See my writings on these issues, including my recent postings here.

      The legal prevailing wage is defined to be the average wage for the given occupation, region and experience level. The key word here is average — the employers claim the H-1Bs have rare skill sets, which ought to command ABOVE-average salaries, not just average. So you can see the legal prevailing wage is designed for underpayment.

      There are a lot of games played in terms of occupation. For examples, banks are hiring “quants,” i.e. mathematical modelers of currency, stocks and so on, but declaring them as Mathematicians in determining prevailing wage. If the government data had a Quants category, the prevailing wage would be much higher.

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    • The wages paid to workers have a historical component, in that a worker which starts out on a low wage, for whatever reason, ends up on average always making less.

      I worked technical support on Wall St. many years ago, my salary and bonus was half the average of my male co-workers. When I asked for a raise based on the low wages I was receiving, my managing director declined to give me one, on the basis that my compensation already put me in the top 2% of women earners in America. Making half the money of my male co workers still put me at the top of women earners. This embedded discrimination follows women throughout their careers.

      Like

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