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CS Wages Down Again, and Other Developments February 1, 2016 matloff

February 1, 2016 matloff

I’ve often emphasized the age issue for H-1B; employers hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older (age 35+) Americans. There is also a preference for young Americans, of course, and I’ve cited many public statements, ads and so on showing that when Intel, Facebook, Microsoft and so on say there is a shortage of Americans in tech, they mean YOUNG Americans.

But things are not necessarily that great for new American grads in tech either. Analyses, e.g. those of Tony Carnevale, indicate that most computer science grads are working outside the field. Some such grads do so by choice, of course, and some others may simply not be highly skilled enough. But many are in neither of these categories, and are being passed over in favor of new-grad foreign students, who are cheaper and, if sponsored for a green card, immobile. And being cheaper, they hold down overall wages.

Thus the salaries of new grads provide a key window into conditions of the labor market. Fortunately, excellent data is available from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Detailed data requires NACE membership, but the organization releases several summaries per year.

Over the years, I’ve cited these summaries, which have consistently found that salaries for new CS grads are flat (including the case of very mild increases) or actually falling. The latest NACE data show that this trend is continuing, in spite of the increasingly load drumbeat from the tech industry lobbyists that the universities are not producing enough CS grads. The mean new-grad CS wage actually fell slightly. Yet you can knock on doors on Capitol Hill all day and not find a single staffer who’s ever heard of NACE.

A couple of other news items:

First, the judge in the OPT lawsuit has granted DHS’ request for an extension, giving the government until May 10 to fix the technical errors in its 2008 extension of the work-rights period for foreign students. John Miano, chief attorney for the plaintiffs, is doing a great job, deftly citing the law, but it would appear that the law just doesn’t matter.

I forecast earlier that this might happen, and wrote the following to John after the judge postponed her deadline, concerning what I believe the likely scenario was:

Judge looks at law, facts, decides (sort of) in your favor.

Judge’s colleagues and friends say to her, “How could you possibly have made that ruling?  These foreign students are geniuses, and they are keeping the U.S. tops in the world in technology!  You are just helping Donald Trump!  Your picture will be on every TV news show, juxtaposed with footage of the foreign students sadly going home, and their employers angrily denouncing you! How could you have been so stupid?!”

Judge finds a way out, law or no law.

Note the lead paragraph of the above link to PIE (emphasis added):

The 17-month extension of a year-long US post-study work programme for STEM graduates will stay in place until May 10, it was announced this week. The decision by Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle gives international educators in the US an extra three months to campaign for longer post-study work visas for STEM students.

“Campaign”? In the context, it would seem that the “international educators” (read: foreign-student advisers at universities, whose jobs rely on having a large population of international students) are campaigning with the judge or the Justice Dept. Scary.

Finally, a news item about the category of companies I call the “Infosyses,” the “rent a programmer” firms that I contend are being scapegoated for what are industry-wide abuses of H-1B, OPT, green cards and other foreign worker programs. The Obama people have now accepted (actively sought?) funding for a low-level educational program in computer technology from Infosys and TCS — in spite of the huge negative publicity about such firms during the last year, concerning incidents in which Disney and other firms replaced American ITers by foreign workers.

Fired Disney workers recently brought a lawsuit against Disney and Infosys over the incident. I’m sure many readers have wondered when I will cover the suit in this blog, but the really perceptive ones know that I think there has been far too much publicity on Disney/Infosys already; this gives the wrong impression that abuse of H-1B etc. is mainly limited to the Infosyses, an impression that I don’t want to foster by writing about it here. (Also, I don’t think the plaintiffs have any chance of success.)

But when the Obama administration has the gall to embrace the Infosyses, then yes, I do feel the need to comment, as I am doing so here. See the numerous insightful remarks by Professor Ron Hira in the Computerworld article linked to above, to which I would add one more point: By tipping its hat to the Infosyses, the administration is not only punching the laid-off Disney workers in the gut, but also giving credence to the idea that H-1B is needed to remedy a tech labor shortage.

As we know, large philanthropic donations can buy respectability for the unrespectable. But did you know that TCS has been doing this for years? It started at least as far back as 2004 at Carnegie Mellon University, and has recently been growing ever since. According to the consistently pro-H-1B Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (which by the way is the most consistently pro-H1-B paper I’ve seen, much more so than the San Jose Mercury News), TCS recently gave a $35 million donation to CMU, the fifth-largest in the institution’s history.

I must again cite my favorite Lily Tomlin quote: “I tried to be a cynic, but I couldn’t keep up.”

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