Just to Reiterate: There’s No Shortage of U.S. STEM Workers

John Vinson's picture

By John Vinson

John is a Senior Writing Fellow with CAPS. A long-time advocate of conservation and responsible use of natural resources, John is president of the American Immigration Control Foundation.

The writer's views are his own. 

July 6, 2014

Billionaire tech moguls such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg never tire of warning us that America faces a terrible shortage of qualified workers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). And most people believe these shortages are real, thanks to numerous news reporters who are ever-so compliant in spreading the moguls’ dire alarm that the only way we can solve these “shortages” is to flood our job market with foreign STEM workers.

Certainly most members of Congress are on board with this message. Tech company lobbyists awe them with carefully crafted studies and statistics, and the companies make it known that campaign contributions will flow to those who vote properly. Thus Congress is highly inclined to maintain and expand the H-1B visa program, which allows U.S. companies to bring in foreign guest workers. The Senate approved a hefty increase in H-1Bs last year, and the House is now under intense pressure from tech companies to do likewise so it can become law.   

In spite of the widespread belief in STEM shortages, there is plenty of evidence from reputable sources to confirm that shortages are a myth. One analysis from the prestigious Rand Corporation found:

Despite recurring concerns about potential shortages of STEM personnel . . . we did not find evidence that such shortages have existed since 1990, nor are they on the horizon.

The press release on a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) stated there was “no shortage of STEM workers in the United States.” PBS aired a story based on the EPI study. Read it here: “The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage: How Guest Workers Lower U.S. Wages.”

Critics of the shortage claim often point out that wages in STEM occupations have not risen significantly in recent years. If there were a genuine shortage of Americans in those fields, by the economic law of supply and demand, STEM wages would have risen sharply. They have not, evidently, because the companies want to keep wages as low as possible by importing foreigners. The “shortages” of Americans are just a pretext to achieve that end.

Further evidence that shortages are bogus comes from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). A recent report, based on the latest Census Bureau data, revealed that most native-born Americans with STEM undergraduate degrees are not employed in STEM fields. In fact, only one third of them are. A total of 5 million of these American graduates are not employed in STEM occupations, and 1.2 million others were either unemployed or out of the labor force. Another significant statistic from the report was that yearly wages in STEM fields, between 2000 and 2012, increased only 0.4 percent.

The companies seem to be doing all they can to make STEM jobs unattractive to Americans. Aside from keeping wages down, they are inclined not to retain or hire older American workers. They prefer younger foreigners on visas who will put up with more demands – and abuse – than those Americans. In such fashion the companies are striving to create the shortages of U.S. workers that they claim we suffer.

Opportunities for Americans in STEM jobs could help stem the decline of our middle class. But the companies don’t seem to care as they continue to proclaim mythical shortages. Their real shortages are in patriotism and honesty.

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