H-1B Visa Applications as an Economic Indicator

I found a positive spin on the numbers Mr. Stone shared with us regarding H-1B Visa. According to this NPR Report, the current demand for H-1B Visas is a return to pre-recession normal. Before the recession it was normal for the H-1B quota to be filled within the first month of filing. An increase in the demand for these workers indicates an increase in the demand for the companies’ products and services (or at least that they are preparing for such an increase).


Of course, the fact that H-1B supply is so insufficient to meet the demand is, overall, troubling. Although I sympathize with some of the article’s commentators, I think the “they took our jobs” attitude fails to hold up against the facts. First of all, the current quota represents about .06% of the U.S. civilian labor force. Second, given the cost and uncertainty of an employer securing a H-1B visa, it seems unlikely that these companies would seek to hire H-1B workers if qualified U.S. workers were available. Lastly, given the short supply of qualified U.S. workers, especially in the STEM fields, the alternatives are that the U.S. company seeking to hire the potential H-1B workers in the U.S. has to hire them in their foreign subsidiary or the U.S. company loses that qualified worker to a foreign competitor. It makes sense to increase the quota amount so that these alternatives are avoided and more qualified workers can be in the U.S. paying taxes and contributing to the economy.

Facts from a Foundation for American Policy Report; www.nfap.com/pdf/1003h1b.pdf

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