Dr. Norm Matloff—Labor Shortage? What Shortage?
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April 07, 2011, 05:21 AM
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Dr. Norm Matloff writes
I was quite taken aback today to read a blog that was quite critical of the H-1B program but meanwhile took it for granted that there is a computer industry labor shortage that must be filled. The writer apparently thought it should be filled by training Americans, rather than by importing workers.

The blog reminded me of just how effective the industry lobbyists are. They`re not paid those big bucks for nothing. But their shortage claims are just not true.

I`ve written about this repeatedly. I don`t have time now to give a thorough analysis, but just quickly, here are just a few of the points showing LACK of a shortage:

  • Even during the dot-com boom, no study showed a shortage (other than the one sponsored by the industry). One study did speak of a "tight labor market" but stated that there was no shortage.
  • Wages, adjusted for inflation, have been flat or falling in the industry, both in general (OES data) and for new college graduates (NACE data).
  • Career longevity for computer science grads is much shorter than among civil engineering grads, in spite of similar skill sets (analytical, problem solving etc.).
  • Employers are extremely picky. I mentioned recently that Google got 75,000 resumes in just one week, but plans to hire only 6,000 in an entire year, 2,000 in the Bay Area/U.S.
All of these counterindicate a shortage.

The industry lobbyists sometimes concede that we have more than enough programmers and engineers, but there are spot shortages of people with very specific skill sets. I`ve exposed this as a red herring too, in detail in my University of Michigan article, and recently in my "If you only knew Python" posting here, which by the way drew far more responses than anything I`ve posted in quite a while.