New CIS report debunks shortage of STEM workers in the US.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: As the debate over the practicality of hiring foreign workers for STEM jobs in the US rages on, new information is negating the claim that US workers simply aren’t qualified for many of these jobs.
A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has revealed that there are about twice as many STEM graduates as there are STEM-related jobs in the US, and enormous disparity that just scratches the surface of what the CIS study ultimately discovered.
“Reports by Georgetown University, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the Rand Corporation, the Urban Institute, and the National Research Council have all found no evidence that [STEM] workers are in short supply,” says the CIS report. “The press release that accompanied EPI’s 2013 report was very clear that there is ‘no shortage of STEM workers in the United States.’”
As of 2012, there were about 5.3 million US-born and immigrant workers in STEM jobs across the US, but there were 12.1 million people, US and foreign born, that had qualifying degrees in the STEM fields. CIS also uncovered that only about one-third of US-born STEM graduates employed, as of 2012, have jobs that are actually in STEM-related fields.
Between 2007 and 2012, STEM employment in the US only grew by about 500,000. However, over that span of time, roughly 700,000 immigrants holding STEM degrees were allowed to settle down in the US. And roughly one-third of all the STEM workers in the US don’t even have undergraduate degrees in a STEM field.
“While employers argue that there are not enough workers with technical skills, most prior research has found little evidence that such workers are in short supply,” CIS said in a statement accompanying the release of the report, saying that their findings are “consistent with other research.”
The CIS report also indicates that wages have not gone up dramatically over the last decade, rising only 0.7% between 2000 and 2012, indicating a trend towards hiring foreign workers to keep wages low.
Furthermore, only 23% of all immigrants with engineering degrees actually work as engineers, about 1.6 million immigrants with STEM degrees are not working in STEM fields, and 563,000 STEM degree-holding immigrants aren’t even working at all.
The findings of the report are in line with the general consensus of many scholars and academics who have criticized Silicon Valley in recent years for using duplicitous hiring tactics that put their own bottom line ahead of the country’s economy.
On a conference call held last week – which featured Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology; Norm Matloff, professor of computer science at the University of California (UC) Davis; Hal Salzman, professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University; and Michael Teitelbaum, senior research associate at Harvard Law School – all four men said that Silicon Valley executives are obscuring the truth to fit their own needs.
Hira, in particular, charged Silicon Valley companies with using H-1B workers as a source of cheap labor, not the experienced or highly skilled labor that they claim to need. By hiring foreign and young, companies can pay less while retaining loyalty and essentially “handcuffing” their workforce, said Matloff.