Better Data on H-1B's Effects Needed

By John Miano, March 28, 2017

A number of people have asked my why I have not commented on the recent Wall Street Journal article about a study that found H-1B drives down computer worker wages. Apparently many people think I should be pointing out that H-1B has driven down IT wages by 2.5 percent.

The reason I have not promoted this study is the same reason I have not promoted similar studies: I do not believe the data supports the result.

Obviously, under the law of supply of and demand, more foreign computer workers means lower wages for domestic workers. But how much lower?

That would depend upon the number of foreign workers, the types of jobs they were doing, where they are working, and their wages.

Even the government has no idea how many H-1B and similar workers are in the country right now, let alone how many were in the country in the 1990’s.

Without that kind of basic information, it is impossible to measure how much effect foreign workers have on Americans.

When you combine the various studies (like this one) trying to measure wage changes as from H-1B, you find that when you try to measure the entire economy using equations coupled with inadequate data, any result is possible.

The industry lobby has no qualms about lying with statistics.

I hope that President Trump will start making better data available on the H-1B and other guestworker programs so that better measurements can be made.

In the mean time, I am not going to join a debate over who is making the better guess.

I do know for certain that about 50 Americans at the University of California were replaced by H-1B workers.