Employers Vastly Overstate Unfilled Jobs to Justify Hiring H-1Bs

By John Miano on March 25, 2016

After I testified before the Senate immigration subcommittee in February about the H-1B visa mess, a woman from IBM politely confronted me. To dispute my testimony, she asserted that IBM had 40,000 unfilled jobs.

The very next week, news reports appeared about massive layoffs at IBM.

One article on the layoffs quoted an IBM spokesperson saying that IBM had 25,000 open positions (I thought it was 40,000).

Over the years industry lobbyists have used several marketing campaigns to promote more H-1B guestworker visas. These have included "Immigrant don't take jobs — they create jobs," "Staple a green card to their diploma," and "Each H-1B visa creates six billion additional jobs."

The granddaddy of them all is the "unfilled jobs" marketing program. The old ITAA started that one in the late 1990s and early 2000s:

  • ComputerWorld, February 26, 1997: "The ITAA says there are 191,000 IT jobs unfilled."

  • ComputerWorld, February 2, 1998: "ITAA says 346,000 computer-related jobs are unfilled."

  • Associated Press, April 9, 2000: "ITAA says 843,000 IT jobs may be difficult to fill."

  • ZDNet India, June 21, 2001: "ITAA says 450,000 IT jobs will go unfilled."

The reality is that employers can say any number of jobs are unfilled. My bank account has how many unfilled dollars? $100,000? $10,000,000? $100,000,000?

In every company I have worked for there were unfilled jobs in the organizational charts. But no one was doing anything to fill them because there was no money to fill them.

In fact, a DICE survey found that only 9 percent of jobs that employers said were unfilled were in that state because they could not find a qualified worker.

The tech blogger I, Cringely has commentary on the current dire state of IBM.