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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION STUDY SHOWS MIGRATION OF SKILLED WORKERS A NET PLUS FOR WORLD ECONOMY

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No surprise here, but there are few American government agencies that have the prestige of the NSF. The report does a nice job laying out the advantages and disadvantages to exporting and importing skilled professional workers. The report wisely concludes that there are always losers in a free trade environment, but that it is not a zero sum game. This is why it is so important to have immigration factor into global trade agreements. They've also included an interesting profile on foreign engineers and scientists in the US. Here is the section from the report on the impact on the global economy:

In addition to any benefits or costs that might be viewed as accruing to particular countries that send or receive highly skilled migrants, there are global effects that cannot be assigned to individual countries. These are essentially all the effects that could result in greater global efficiency in the production of knowledge and of goods and services. Even if one rejects the idea that one country benefits from wealth and knowledge creation in another, this greater efficiency would result in a larger global sum of gross domestic product, however distributed. A better international flow of knowledge may increase the efficiency of new knowledge production globally because it leads to better solutions to particular problems and reduces duplication in R&D.

An international job market has important implications for the quality of job matches for both workers and employers. In a world where increased specialization leads to increased employer dependence on scarce or unique skill sets, the reasons employers find it increasingly efficient to search across borders are clear. Not only might an individual with a particular combination of skill and experience be hard to find, but the difference between the best and the second best job match may be large. At the
same time, greater employment options resulting from a global labor market may allow workers to find the work most interesting to them.

There may also be a global benefit from the formation of international research and technology centers. Researchers studying innovation have long noted the apparent benefits of geographic clustering of particular research activities. To a great extent, this clustering of specialized research required international migration of highly skilled workers for staffing
.
For all of these reasons, international high-skill migration is likely to have a positive effect on global incentives for human capital investment. It increases the opportunities for highly skilled workers both by providing the option to search for a job across borders and by encouraging the growth of new knowledge.   

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  1. Rocket Scientist's Avatar
    [DELETED - THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE REGULARS ON MY BLOG KNOW THAT I DO NOT TOLERATE THE DEFAMATION OF IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ON MY BLOG.]
  2. James Murphy's Avatar
    The "prestigious" National Science Foundation has always been willing to stab American workers in the back to promote globalization. The NSF joined in industry lobbying for the creation and expansion of the H-1B visa program specifically in order to drive down compensation:

    "A growing influx of foreign PhDs into U.S. labor markets will hold down the level of PhD salaries to the extent that foreign students are attracted to U.S. doctoral programs as a way of immigrating to the U.S.A. A related point is that for this group the PhD salary premium is much higher [than it is for Americans], because it is based on BS-level pay in students' home nations versus PhD-level pay in the U.S.A... [If] doctoral studies are failing to appeal to a large (or growing) percentage of the best citizen baccalaureates, then a key issue is pay... A number of [the Americans] will select alternative career paths... For these baccalaureates, the effective premium for acquiring a PhD may actually be negative."

    The reason there are so many foreign students in U.S. PhD programs is that the "prestigious" National Science Foundation, a government agency, planned it that way. Their explicit goal was to bring in foreign students in order to hold down PhD wages. The NSF recognized that the low PhD wages would be a disincentive for American students to pursue a PhD.

    The "prestigious" National Science Foundation regularly produces fake studies predicting a shortage of American engineers to support calls for more foreign workers. They are unembarrassed by the failure of those predictions to come true.

    So much for the high end losers in globalization how about the masses? I am an engineer let us do the numbers:

    Consider the government economic statistic Average Weekly Earnings. Average Weekly Earnings are the "earnings of production or non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls." It is about 80% of American workers. The Rosie Scenario applauds the fact that it is up about 1.4% from a year ago to $280 (1982 constant dollars) for May 2007. (See http://www.bls.gov/news.release/realer.t03.htm). Sounds good right? The problem is it last hit an all time high in 1973 of $332 (1982 constant dollars). (See http://www.workinglife.org/wiki/Wages+and+Benefits:+Real+Wages+(1964-2004)) From 1973 to 2007 80% of American workers have experienced a declining wage. Americans have adjusted to this decline by having more than one job in a family and a reduced savings rate.

    To put that decline in prospective check out the inflation calculator at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

    1973 wage of $332 (1982 constant dollars).... 715 (2007 dollars)
    2007 wage of $280 (1982 constant dollars).... 603 (2007 dollars)

    The difference is $112/week or $5824/year. Score that decline to globalization.

    Now just who does the "prestigious" National Science Foundation say is getting a benefit from globalization? It is not American scientist and engineers losing jobs to H-1Bs and having H-1Bs push their wages down and it is not 80% of the American workers.





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