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The H-1B program and its effects on information technology workers

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  • Madeline Zavodny

Abstract

Employment in the information technology (IT) field rose rapidly during the late 1990s. Many IT employees are foreign born and are working in the United States with H-1B visas-temporary nonimmigrant visas issued for terms of up to six years. Critics of the H-1B program contend that it reduces job opportunities and wages for native workers. The programs' supporters argue that H-1B workers-who typically have at least a bachelor's degree in a specialty such as computer programming-help address a shortage of skilled native workers and fill positions that would otherwise go vacant. ; This article examines whether the H-1B visa program negatively affects IT workers' wages. The author uses data on labor condition applications (LCAs) filed with the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate whether the number of H-1B workers in an area, relative to the total number of IT workers in that area, is negatively associated with the level of and change in average IT wages and the unemployment rate among IT workers in that area. ; The results provide little support for claims that the program has a negative impact on wages. However, some results do suggest a positive relationship between the number of LCA applications and the unemployment rate a year later. The failure to find an adverse wage effect does not necessarily indicate that H-1B workers do not depress wages but perhaps signals that any effect is difficult to find, as previous studies concluded.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2003)
Issue (Month): Q3 ()
Pages: 33-43

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2003:i:q3:p:33-43:n:v.88no.3

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Keywords: Employment (Economic theory) ; Information technology ; Immigrants;

References

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  1. Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence," Working Papers 0302, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
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Cited by:
  1. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln & Prachi Mishra, 2011. "The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying," NBER Working Papers 17577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sankar Mukhopadhyay & David Oxborrow, 2012. "The Value of an Employment-Based Green Card," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 219-237, February.
  3. Carl Lin, 2011. "Give me your wired and your highly skilled: measuring the impact of immigration policy on employers and shareholders," Working Papers 2011/17, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  4. William Kerr & William Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp978, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

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