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Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns of Skilled Guest Workers

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Critics of U.S. high-skilled guest worker visa programs argue that 1) program regulations tie workers to their sponsoring firm, creating working conditions akin to indentured servitude and that 2) the pro- grams lack a vehicle for adjusting downward the number of visas avail- able during a recession. We address these two criticisms using unique payroll data from firms that rely upon these programs. Contrary to popular belief, we find that the guest workers in our sample exhibit a significant amount of inter-firm mobility that varies over both the earn- ings distribution and the business cycle. This suggests that, despite regulatory frictions of the visa programs, competitive pressures are a driving force in this labor market. Furthermore, we find evidence of increased return migration during periods of high unemployment. This is especially true for lower paid workers, suggesting positive selection.

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File URL: http://bus.lsu.edu/McMillin/Working_Papers/pap14_06.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Louisiana State University in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2014-06.

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Date of creation: Jun 2014
Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2014-06
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Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6306

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Web page: http://www.business.lsu.edu/economics
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