A new report from the Economic Policy Institute suggests tech CEOs', lobbying groups', and senators' claims that immigration reform is needed to fill an abundance of open highly-skilled jobs in the US may be inaccurate. The group believes that there are more than enough qualified US workers to meet employers' demands, but that those workers may be looking to other industries because of wage concerns. It found that industry wages have remained flat for years, and that now only half of all US college graduates who studied science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are finding jobs in their field.
One way or the other, jobs need to be filled
The EPI believes that the proposed immigration reform would further alienate US workers from the jobs. When adjusted for inflation, it found that current STEM industry wages are around where they were in the late 1990s — enough to attract plenty of guest workers, but too low to attract domestic workers. Thanks in part to current immigration laws, tens of thousands of those jobs remain unfilled anyway. However, the outcome of the study shouldn't come as a surprise: the EPI is funded in large part by unions and takes on a pro-labor agenda, so its findings are right in line with the group's broader stance.
Nevertheless, tech leaders may soon get the immigration reform that they're looking for. A group of senators introduced a sweeping reform package earlier this month that could double the number of available visas for highly-skilled workers. This would would help to fill industry jobs — even if it may suppress wages to the disadvantage of the domestic workforce, as the EPI suggests.