Facts About High Skilled Immigrants and the Economy: Part 3 of 4


In week 1, we saw that high skilled immigrants create jobs and generate trillions for the U.S. economy. In week 2, we saw how high skilled immigrants complement the U.S. workforce, filling key holes in job market where demand is high and unemployment of U.S. workers is low. What follows is a continuation of the American Immigration Counsel‘s report, Fueling the Recovery, regarding highly skilled immigrants and the U.S. economy. As we have previously stated, this report is attributed solely to the AIC’s Immigration Policy Center. While we can take absolutely no credit for what follows, we, as advocates of comprehensive immigration reform, find the AIC’s report of such high value in dispelling the myths about immigrant workers that we post it here:

High-Skilled Immigrant Workers Improve the Wages of Native-Born Workers

A 2011 study from the Institute for the Study of Labor found that earnings are higher among H-1B visa-holders than among native-born workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.

  • Computer and Information Technology: After controlling for age differences, education, occupation, and industry effects, results show that newly arrived H-1B workers earn close to 7 percent more than U.S.-born workers of the same age, education, and specific occupation, with an additional increase of about 5 percent for those renewing their visas.
  • Engineering: When age differences are accounted for, recent H-1B visa-holders experience a 13 percent wage advantage over native-born workers. Further, there is no statistical difference in earnings between new and renewing visa holders.
  • Science and Mathematics: The research results show that there is no statistical difference in earnings between H-1B visa holders, naturalized citizens, and similar native-born workers.
  • Healthcare: In this industry, H-1B visa-holders tend to earn more overall. Furthermore, the authors suggest that, when taking into account education levels, there is little or no statistical difference in wage earnings between H-1B workers and native-born workers.

A 2013 study by the Brookings Institution found that H-1B visa-holders are paid more than non-H-1B workers within the same occupations among workers with similar experience. Overall, on average, H-1B workers earn higher wages than employed U.S.-born workers with bachelor’s degrees ($81,322 compared to $67,301), but are also 10 years younger and more educated.

The same study found that for occupations with the most H-1B requests, wage growth in recent years has been much higher than the national average.

  • From 2009 to 2011, there was nominal wage growth for U.S.-born workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, but that growth was relatively high for most prominent occupations with large numbers of H-1B applications. In particular, wage growth was strong in large H-1B occupational categories including computer occupations (1.3 percent growth) and engineering (2.1 percent growth).
  • Wage growth was stronger than the national average since 2009 for every prominent H-1B occupational category except life scientists, and since 2000, all prominent H-1B categories except postsecondary teachers witnessed higher than average wage growth. Since 2000, wage growth was 2.7 percent for computer occupations, 3.0 percent for engineers, 3.4 percent for financial specialists, and 2.9 percent for mathematical science occupations.
  • Furthermore, in the industry category with the most H-1B requests, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, wage growth has been much larger than the national average since 1990 (5.5 percent growth) and since 2009 (7.7 percent growth). This is in comparison to wage growth across all industries of 0.8 percent since 1990 and 1.6 percent since 2009.
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