President Trump would like to set a minimum wage of $150,000-$250,000 for companies hiring foreign born H1B Engineers and Scientists. It is believed that anti immigrant people in the administration see the current Covid 19 crisis and the 30 day halt of temporary visas into the US as their best opportunity to keep most of the high skilled foreign workforce from entering the US. It would set the wages at the highest level- level 4 in the FLCDataCenter (https://www.flcdatacenter.com/OesQuick.aspx) eliminating roughly 95% of the H1B workforce, which are generally post college applicants. The wages companies must pay H1B applicants are set by either the FLCDataCenter, which already are inflated when compared to wages in the private wage surveys that sometimes can be used. The proposal will harm startup companies and stifle the growth of smaller companies attempting to scale up in the US who can’t afford to pay the much higher level 3 or 4 salaries of software developers, engineers and scientists. They hire talent at the beginning of their careers and then develop them and their American co-workers into future leaders at the top of the wage levels. By forcing companies to only hire people at the top end of pay scale will disrupt these companies’ ability to grow at a time when we urgently need growth. People drive growth.
The FLCData doesn’t actually survey individual employers or employees to gather their salary, education and experience. It gathers data for a different purpose through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program and makes up the four wage levels based on mathematical formula rather than real data. According to the U.S Department of Labor, “The OES survey captures no information about actual skills or responsibilities of the workers whose wages are being reported.” This reliance on a mathematical formula, rather than actual survey data can skew wages well above market rates for certain occupations. But the goal isn’t to make sure that workers are paid fairly but to price them out of the market. It undermines our free market system when the government decides which workers the companies need to hire and not the individual company in need of talent. How funny that the same administration that opposes a $15.00 minimum wage for American workers would want to set a minimum wage of $250,000 for foreign ones.
Having H1B workers at all stages of their careers helps the American economy and studies consistently show that having H1B visa holders in the economy promote growth and have lower unemployment among all college grads. According to Madeline Zavodny, economist and Professor at UNF, “H-1B visa holders do not adversely affect U.S. workers,” in a new study for the National Foundation for American Policy. “On the contrary, the evidence points to the presence of H-1B visa holders being associated with lower unemployment rates and faster earnings growth among college graduates, including recent college graduates. Further, the results suggest that, if anything, being in a field with more H-1B visa holders makes it more likely that U.S.-born young college graduates work in a job closely related to their college major.”
If we want America to attract and retain the best and the brightest, then we should be creating policies that promote growth and people. Under this administration the denial rates of H1B applications have gone from 6-10% to 30. Typically the hardest part was to have your application accepted in the H1B Lottery, then once accepted, if the company was legitimate, could show the financials to pay the salary and the H1B applicant had the degree(s) skills necessary for a professional college graduate, then it would generally be approved. Instead denials have morphed into querying whether an entry wage level could be a professional position when the governments’ own definitions say that it is.