H-1B Concentrated in a Few High-Wage States

By John Miano on April 13, 2012

While examining the Labor Condition Applications for H-1B visas for my previous CIS Backgrounders "H-1B Visa Numbers: No Relationship to Economic Need", and "Low Salaries for Low Skills: Wages and Skill Levels for H-1B Computer Workers, 2005", and "The Bottom of the Pay Scale: Wages for H-1B Computer Programmers", it was apparent that H-1B workers are highly concentrated in a few states. At the time, unfortunately, the nature of the data made it difficult to quantify where the workers were actually going.

Recently, however, Data.gov released admission data, including the state of destination, which gives a picture of the density of H-1B workers.

Over half of all H-1B workers go to just five states:

  1. California: 16 percent

  2. New York: 15 percent

  3. Texas: 8 percent

  4. New Jersey: 8 percent

  5. Florida: 8 percent

For those not familiar with the H-1B program, the one surprise here is likely to be New Jersey's position on the list. Measured by Labor Condition Applications filed, Edison, N.J., (pop. 100,000) is the No. 3 location. The other states are the top four in population. New Jersey is No. 11 and has less than half the population of Florida.

Ranking the states (and the District of Columbia) by location quotient gives:

  1. District of Columbia: 4.3

  2. New Jersey: 2.9

  3. New York: 2.4

  4. Massachusetts: 1.9

  5. Connecticut: 1.7

In other words, the District of Columbia receives 4.3 times the number of H-1B admissions than it would if H-1B workers were evenly distributed throughout the population. The location quotient is below 0.5 for 32 states.

As more analysis is done, it looks like we are going to find that the impact of the H-1B program is largely confined to a few high-wage states.