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Report: U.S. firms hire five locals for every H-1B visa request

Posted: 12 Mar 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:H-1B visa? U.S. technology firms? local employment?

U.S. technology companies hire an average of five workers for each H-1B visa position they request, says a new report by the National Foundation of American Policy, a research organization.

The NFAP examined all H-1B Labor Condition Applications (LCA) filings to the U.S. Department of Labor from 2001 to 2005 by Standards & Poor's (S&P) 500 technology companies. The NFAP report says researchers used "a regression model that controls for both general market conditions and firm size" in analyzing the association between number of positions required in H-1B LCA documents and the percentage of total employment.

Equal opportunity
Through this analysis, NFAP determined that S&P 500 technology companies with more than 5,000 employers added an average of five workers for every H-1B position requested. For companies with fewer than 5,000 employees, the average increase in employment was 7.5 workers for each H-1B position requested.

The S&P 500, which consists of mostly American companies, currently features about 76 technology companies.

The NFAP's report findings dispute a common argument by critics of the H-1B visa program who assert that the hiring of foreign technology professionals reduce employment opportunities for American workers.

"At the minimum, this shows that H-1Bs are complementary to other U.S. workers being hired, not displacing them," said Stuart Anderson, executive director of NFAP in an interview with InformationWeek.

Stuart, a former staff director of the Senate Immigration subcommittee, says NFAP, is "a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization that's independently funded by foundations and private contributors, and does not lobby for legislation."

Research findings
The LCAs filings examined by NFAP are documents that companies file to the Department of Labor to specify details such as job location and pay that an employer plans to provide for a position they'd like to fill by an H-1B worker. The LCAs are "supporting evidence" employers provide to the U.S. Dept. of Labor before the company can apply for H-1B visa workers. LCAs need to be certified by the department before the employer can petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for an H-1B visa.

However, the NFAP research did not examine the types of job positions that S&P companies added to their employment, or the pay for those positions. Anderson said the research did not conclude that companies added to their employment because they were saving money by hiring H-1B workers. In fact, he said an opposite argument may be true.

"We did not see increases in H-1B hiring by companies when they faced harder times and needed to reduce their payrolls," he says.

Continuous hiring
On April 1, the U.S. government begins accepting H-1B visa petitions from employers looking to hire foreign workers for fiscal 2009, which starts Oct. 1.

In another report NFAP released on Monday, the organization said its analysis of S&P 500 employers found that there are more than 140,000 job openings for skilled positions at those companies today.

Major U.S. technology companies today average more than 470 U.S.-based job openings for skilled positions, while defense companies have more than 1,265 each.

The skilled positions include all jobs that require at least an undergraduate degree. NFAP examined posting for U.S.-based jobs at all companies in the S&P 500 companies. The vast majority of the data was gathered in January 2008, with the rest compiled in December 2007 or February 2008, the report said.

According the NFAP report, S&P 500 employers with the most job openings as of January 2008 are Microsoft (4,005), Northrop Grumman (3,925), Lockheed Martin (3,901), General Electric (3,078), Countrywide Financial (2,415), JPMorgan Chase (2,164), Tenet Healthcare (2,050), United Health Group (1,927), Raytheon (1,694), IBM (1,670), Computer Sciences Corp. (1,666), Cintas (1,664), L-3 Communications (1,618), Bank of America (1,600), U.S. Bancorp (1,562) and Cisco Systems (1,504).

- Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

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