Saturday, September 15, 2012

STEM Jobs Act

From Computerworld:

"The U.S. House is moving closer to acting on legislation that would make green cards available to as many as 55,000 foreign nationals who have earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math -- the so-called STEM fields.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who, as head of the House Judiciary Committee, is the lead lawmaker on immigration matters, is preparing to introduce legislation as early as Friday to create a STEM visa, say sources familiar with the situation.

The STEM Jobs Act of 2012 would eliminate the lottery diversity program, which now awards 55,000 permanent residency visas to random lottery winners. This legislative proposal takes those visas and repurposes them as STEM visas."

There are two obvious problems with this:

1. We shouldn't be distorting labor market signals by weighting the playing field to highly skilled workers.

2. This is a big slap in the face to low skill immigrants. Working off the previous point, if anything, given credit, travel, and information constraints, the weight should be in favor of lower skilled workers.

But if you read the priorities of who would get in under this act it's even worse than past attempts by Congress to put their thumbs on the scales. H1-Bs aren't as highly skilled as they're often made out to be. They're really middle and upper-middle skilled workers. This act seems like it is attempting to really target high skill workers by placing restrictions on what schools (PhD granting and high research) they can come from.


  1. Daniel

    What about the really really stupid message to American parents. Don't have your son or daughter study these subjects, for we will import people at nominal wages to undercut their future

  2. Explain how is this distorting the labor market signals? I hope you don't mean that US needs more low skilled workers.
    Unless you want to fill up the nation with nannies and cab drivers etc. Long live YOUR nannies nation.

    Your assertion that H1Bs are not as highly skilled as purported may be true, but they are far more skilled than what is available in the otherwise a majorly low skill labor market in USA. No doubt there are high quality high skill workforce, but the numbers are too small to satisfy the needs.

    "middle and upper-middle skilled workers" What's that? You are confusing income levels with skills.

    1. Because the government is making it easier for high skill workers to enter than low skill workers. In any other sphere if we placed more restrictions on one class of workers relative to another it would be identified as a distortion.

      I imagine we could use more of all types of workers, but the whole point is I don't pretend to know what the right combination is.

      re: "No doubt there are high quality high skill workforce, but the numbers are too small to satisfy the needs."

      Do you have any evidence of this at all?

      re: "You are confusing income levels with skills."

      Huh? why are you talking about income levels? I am talking about the middle and upper middle of the skills distribution.


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