Turns out, the entire job-stealing myth of the H1B visa holder is the opposite of true. Since the beginning of the H1b visa program in 1990, the program has stimulated both job creation and significant wage increases for US-born employees as well as H1B workers alike. In fact, it is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that expanding the H1B visa program will create $158 billion in GDP and 1.3 million new jobs in the United States by the year 2045.
There are many ways H1B employees create more jobs. First and foremost, these are hundreds of thousands of people earning high salaries for highly skilled jobs who come to live in the United States with their families for three to six years and sometimes more. These are hundreds of thousands of people spending money in the United States who otherwise wouldn’t be. H1B families rent homes, buy everything from cars to clothing to groceries, go to movies, get haircuts and go on vacations. This creates jobs in all industries.
In a more direct way, however, H1B workers are also creating jobs in their fields for US-born workers both with and without degrees. Highly skilled occupations – particularly in STEM occupations – require assistants and support staff. These are positions that would otherwise not exist and are filled by US-born citizens.
At the same time as H1B workers create new jobs, the program has also lead to significant wage increases for existing jobs. In fact, in May of 2014 the Bureau published a paper showing that the H1B program helped cause wages to rise significantly in STEM fields in 219 US cities. This may be because labor conditions for H1B workers are very tightly regulated by the Department of Labor, which puts pressure on companies to have favorable labor conditions for all of their employees. Prevailing wages and benefits are enforced for H1B workers. Alongside that, employers are required to show that paying H1B workers prevailing wages and benefits won’t cut into the salaries and working conditions of their non-H1B workers. This causes labor conditions to improve and wages to rise.
In the years to come, the US is looking at significant immigration reform including the expansion of the H1B visa program as well as allowing some H4 spouses – who come to the US with their H1B visa-holding spouses – to work. Immigration reform means economic growth. This is a good thing, and it’s about time.
Sheila Danzig, EdD
Executive Director CCI
This article was written by Rebecca Little