not paid for by the government but by the employer, for training more U.S. workers for the New Economy."

"Any time you have a revolution in the economy, there's going to be discontinuity. In the information economy, it takes months, often years, to be trained properly. The education and training system[s] haven't caught up yet. Eventually they will, but it's going to take many years, because you don't produce hundreds of thousands of people with the appropriate computer skills overnight. Even though many more people want to be part of this New Economy, it takes time for them to get the math and science skills and the specific educational training they need to be part of this IT workforce."

Norm Matloff

Norm Matloff is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis.

"The vast majority of high-tech H-1Bs are computer programmers. We do not have a shortage of programmers. Employers in this field -- large ones, small ones, anywhere in the country -- hire only two percent of their applicants. If there were a "desperate" shortage, they could not be so picky."

"Wages for programmers are rising only moderately, and at about the same rate as other professions. For example, starting salaries for new computer science graduates have risen only four percent per year since 1995. This is about the same rate (actually slightly less) than for graduates in sales/marketing, accounting, etc. If employers were desperate to hire, they would be willing to pay a premium of more than four percent to get someone."

"The industry lobbyists point to low unemployment rates among programmers. Those are meaningless, because older programmers who can't find programming jobs leave the field and thus don't show up in programmer unemployment data."

"Programming careers are especially short-lived. Twenty years after graduation, only 19 percent of computer science graduates are still in the programming field, compared to 52 percent of civil engineering graduates still in their field. Employers prefer hiring a young H-1B (median age 28) to an older (say age 40) American programmer. Without the foreign labor pool to rely on, the employers would be forced to pay more attention to the older Americans."


By Jim McKay

Jim McKay  |  Contributing Editor

Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management magazine. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his wife, Christie, daughter, Ellie and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout.