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Trump Is Right: Silicon Valley Using H-1B Visas to Pay Low Wages to Immigrants (huffingtonpost.com)
509 points by gadders on Feb 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 468 comments



ex H1B here. Yes Trump is right.(though I do not like him personally, he is right in this matter) Most of the corporate America is exploiting H1B workers. I have worked in one of those firms and I have friends in many other firms. These are not Indian body shops, these are American companies. Everyone's topic of discussion when we hangout is how our H1B visas were being exploited and there is nothing we could do about it. We were bound to the employer with no hopes of promotion and the long wait for GreenCard (10 years). H1B has become a system to pay lower wages than a skilled visa. How can it be a skilled visa, if the visas are allocated based on lottery ?

So we decided to do something about our situation. We started foraying into the immigration systems of other countries and we decided to use the express entry system of Canada. So we all applied for it ourselves, got evaluated for our skills & degrees and now I am happily typing this as a permanent resident from Canada.

Express Entry System -

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/express-entry/grid-crs.asp


Of all of the political candidates, only Trump and Sanders spoke out against H1-B visa abuse used to depress wages. (Former) Presidential Candidate Senator Marco Rubio of Florida wanted to triple the number of H1-B visas to 250,000 from 85,000 and accepted $2 million donation from Disney.

Disney of Florida had recently replaced 250 US IT workers with foreigners on H1-B. Trump especially spoke out against this move. Clinton was silent.

Clinton accepted $675,000 from Goldman for 3 talks. Wall Street banks like Goldman hire lots of high tech computer programmers and it is in their interest to depress wages as well as those firms in Silicon Valley. Trump was right that Clinton was bought off (she could have donated the $675,000 for charity as President Obama did with his Nobel Peace Prize Award money).

Incidentally, HP head and Republican Meg Whitman came out against Trump and she mentioned other reasons, but her true motivation is that HP would have to start paying market wages for all of its high tech workers if Trump won.


> Clinton accepted $675,000 from Goldman for 3 talks

Okay, I get it, Clinton bad etc. But Trump has appointed tons of people from Goldman to his administration[1] and filed an executive order against financial industry regulations[2] - you know the regulations put in place after the last Wall Street crash, to prevent a similar crash?

Can we stop pretending that Trump isn't bought off by Goldman now?

[1] http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-adds-goldman-...

[2] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/03/presi... https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/03/presi...


Not a Trump fan at all here, but technically I think it's more the other way around. Trump is buying up Goldman, rather than they buying him. I have yet to see a clear line of influence from Goldman to Trump personally. It seems more like he's hiring old buddies for potential future favors from them. Reverse lobbying! You heard it here first!


Corruption is by association, not direction. So Trump's involvement with Goldman at all is indication of a quid-pro-quo that stinks of corruption.

Trump may be right about H1Bs, but he's knee deep in corruptive patterns. The details will come out when those "old buddies" start doing their "former" businesses huge favors.


> but he's knee deep in corruptive patterns.

Well, you might be right, but it helps to cite evidence to your assertions.



I see allegations, but no true corruption. Could you please cite a specific example? Hiring a Goldman banker is no proof of corruption.


I said corruptive patterns, ie, things commonly associated with corruption, like hiring insiders from the very companies the agency is regulating.


Insiders tend to be knowledgeable


How is giving Goldman people government positions buying them if not by giving them the power to set rules as they like? It's not like they are in it for the cushy gov't benefits.


I am saying the causality here is backwards (I think). It is not the case that Goldman did something for Trump so now he has to make these appointments. It is that he is giving them these appointments so they return the favor in the future. I think he is doing this for future business needs after he is done being president, but I am sure it could be any number of other reasons.


These corporations are huge, with many many employees (over 30 thousand just at Goldman Sachs).

Just because you used to work for Goldman in the past, does not mean you are a current and future supporter of Goldman.

Nor does it mean that you are a bad person.

Trump is hiring people that know how these companies work from the inside-out. Which is the exact type of person you need to be able to deal with these companies head-on.


That has to be a self-delusion of the highest magnitude ever recorded. "Sure he's let the fox run the henhouse; but who knows better than a fox?"


Tom Wheeler had been a telecom CEO and lobbyist prior to running the FCC. He turned out OK, solidly reining in the industry he had worked for. He knew what to watch out for, and didn't need to rely on lobbyists to explain things to him.

So it works. Integrity and patriotism matter of course. Diversifying investments prior to taking office would help reduce temptation.


Assuming that anyone who works for GS, or banking in general, are homogenous in morals and ethics and ability is equally delusional.


These guys are not 'anyone'. That's just deliberately ignoring the point.


There is a big difference between selling out Americans to be replaced by foreigners whether H1-B as in Disney, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street or illegal immigrants replacing working class American jobs and depressing working class jobs and what Trump is doing now with Wall Street.

If Trump were truly bought off by Goldman, he certainly would not be behind legislation that fixes the broken H1-B Visa system. Goldman, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and other firms will have to start paying market wages instead of depressed wages because of the H1-B Visa reform.


It's possible that he's trying to stick it to Silicon Valley as payback.

Technology salaries are probably a drop in the bucket cost-wise compared to the profits that will be made from deregulation of the industry. So while Goldman might have to pay a few million more in salaries, it's offset by the billions more in profits that they will rake in (over the short-term, until they destroy the economy again, that is).

Tech companies aren't going to see a similar measure to increase their profits to offset the labor costs increases.


I don't think so (sticking it to SV). He was threatening to reform the H-1B visa program during his campaign.


Sure, but he was also blasting SV "elites" the entire time too. I mean, look at all the people that wrote this:

https://shift.newco.co/an-open-letter-from-technology-sector...


The SV elites were very much against him because he wanted to protect US STEM worker by fixing the broken H1-B program that stopped SV firms from hiring H1-B for depressed wages.


The "depressing wages" point is dumb. These engineers will still be part of the labor pool, they'll just be doing work for our foreign competitors. And HP can still hire them, do you want them to just open up more space in Bangalore, or would you rather those wages go to US based locations?

And it's not a zero sum game. One of my H!B hires had unduplicatable skills and created about 20 high paid jobs in our company. Other H1B hires enabled a contracting firm I worked for to get a large contract that kept 7 other people employed.


Did you read the article? Many tech jobs can't be done effectively in India or overseas with low quality labor for any number of reasons. The 250 American workers for Disney had their jobs replaced in the US, not by overseas workers.

> "These engineers will still be part of the labor pool, they'll just be doing work for our foreign competitors"

Well, let them work for Samsung instead of Apple then.

> "One of my H!B hires had unduplicatable skills and created about 20 high paid jobs in our company."

The point of the H1-B visa is precisely for those cases where there are no Americans that can do the job, so your hire follows the law. But then if it such a hard to find job, then the scarcity implies the person should get a higher salary, especially if he/she created "20 high paid jobs for our company."


Letting them work for Samsung lowers our standard of living.


Please explain.


> One of my H!B hires had unduplicatable skills and created about 20 high paid jobs in our company.

That type of thing was the original intention, and I think most people would be okay with that.

But a gigantic majority of H1Bs are not used to fill positions that require unique skills. If 99.9% of H1Bs are abusing the system to avoid paying market wages then the system is broken and it needs to be fixed.


> do you want them to just open up more space in Bangalore

Yes. We have higher wages for our higher standard of living. As you said, it's not a zero sum game and all things are not equal.


and someone like this smart person in your example would now be highly unlikely to get an h1b visa with the current lottery system. once you introduce a lottery, it's no longer about hard to find skills, it's about how can you churn out most applications to win most visas. i'll be looking for the elimination of the lottery system in any proposed fixes.


> One of my H!B hires had unduplicatable skills and created about 20 high paid jobs in our company

Can you give details so it can be judged if this is true, and if so how common/relevant it is?


He was a japanese physicist, lost his job when Supercollider project canceled. Instead of going back to Japan, I was able to hire him as lead graphics engineer on a Macintosh imaging product, he was super creative in developing unique graphics effects and his product became our biggest and most profitable. The company grew to 140 employees, his team was 20, but it's reasonable to think about a quarter of the workforce was tied to it given it was about a quarter of our revenues.


Sounds like an excellent use of H1B; but I'm sure it's not a common one.


So how much were you paying him? (Last week?) there was an article about someone trying to double the H1B minimum wage to $140k; surely if this physicist is as important as you say he is, you were compensating him around that figure, no?


Was he making as much as an American? Also did he get huge bonus for the excellent work he did?


As someone who is solidly for this move, it is a bit silly to point out Clinton accepting money from Goldman for 3 talks when Trump literally puts wall street and others in his cabinet.

Broken clock is right twice a day...


> Clinton accepted $675,000 from Goldman for 3 talks.

So what? That is what people with her credentials are worth on the speaking circuit. God forbid someone get paid what they are worth, what do you think this is, a meritocracy?

> she could have donated the $675,000 for charity as President Obama did with his Nobel Peace Prize Award money

The Clinton's donated over $15MM to charity over the course of 2008-2015 and paid over 40% of their income as taxes. I'm pretty sure they've done more to help people than you (the average you, for all I know you're Bill Gates) or I ever will.


>> Clinton accepted $675,000 from Goldman for 3 talks.

> So what? That is what people with her credentials are worth on the speaking circuit. God forbid someone get paid what they are worth, what do you think this is, a meritocracy?

$675,000 for 3 talks to Goldman leaves many with the implication that Clinton was "bought" by Goldman, whether true or not (and how to prove that?). It gave both Sanders (who asked that Clinton dispose the contents of the 3 talks which she never did but which Wikileaks eventually did do) and Trump significant ammunition against Clinton in the campaign.

If you are running for President, esp as a Democrat, it is unwise to accept money like that from Goldman or Wall Street. She could have said when she accepted each payment from Goldman that she was donating that money to charity so as not to leave people, potential voters, with the impression that she was "bought." Perceptions matter and as someone who came from a family that ran multiple times for President (3 times prior to this election) she should have known better.


The mob boss who donates to the orphanage is still the mob boss.


I agree wages are depressed but how do you know Meg Whitman's true motivation?


Clinton proposed automatically giving H1Bs a green card, which would have removed them from indentured servitude. Your narrative ignores the actual policy.


> Clinton proposed automatically giving H1Bs a green card,

When? Her proposal, as reported in the media was, "'staple' green cards on STEM grads' diplomas". Was there other proposal she made specifically addressing H-1Bs?


> Her proposal, as reported in the media was, "'staple' green cards on STEM grads' diplomas".

Well, that's a terrible idea if she said that. She apparently wanted to depress STEM wages in the US and put Americans STEM workers, who worked very hard for their degrees and skill out of work. The green card, H1-B should only be given for STEM jobs for which there is no American.

So Clinton wanted to depress STEM wages and take STEM jobs away from Americans and Trump wanted STEM workers to be treated fairly.


It does the exact opposite by making employers pay at least as much for an H1B as for an equivalent local worker. You're suggesting that they not even be allowed into the country, which would incentivize American companies to set up their campuses in other countries that take a more liberal view to immigration.


That is amazing! However I would like to point out, H1B is not only for Silicon Valley. There are many automotive companies which require foreign talent in specialized fields. Very smart people with multi-disciplinary knowledge are nowhere to be found in auto sector. Signal Processing and vibrations and programming and control systems understanding etc. is required to deal with things like active noise control which is now a need in auto sector. The Canadian Automotive R&D is not as good as in US. Also, there's no way we can work remotely. So our fates are still determined by 'lottery based skilled visa' allotments.


I believe the proposed solution to the H1B issue was to simply increase the minimum wage for H1B's to $140k. If a company is bringing over top-talent that is irreplaceable; surely that salary is justified. Otherwise, they probably don't need you as bad as they say they do.


Raising wages combats the symptoms (wage depression) but not the cause (lack of mobility).

The only way to truly solve the issue is to tie the H1B to the person and let them work freely in the US after a short time.


How would that solve the symptoms? And why is that the cause? I think the actual issue is that there aren't enough top-talent individuals in the country already; meaning the real cause is actually our broken education system.

Opening the flood gates might solve the issues of select individuals and some companies, but it doesn't solve wage depression.


Most people in the industry believe that the best way to increase your income is to change jobs. How often would you change jobs if failing to secure a position resulted in your near-immediate ejection from the country? Probably not often, and that's the situation that many H1B workers are in.

The general belief is that H1B workers are underpaid because they have less flexibility in the labor market. While they can move jobs, it's somewhat tedious and requires both companies to work together to make the transition. It's not impossible, but it's certainly not easy.

If there were less friction involved with moving jobs, people on H1B could shop around for a better positions without worrying about their residency should things go wrong.


140k might sound great in silicon valley. its enormous amount of money for a place like detroit. i am sure they will pay some of the people that sort of money to keep them here. but think about all others who will go back to their own countries and create new startups that will compete with the US industry.[1]

[1]http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/02/news/india/snapdeal-india-ku...


Yeah this fixation on Silicon Valley is dumb. The worst affected will really be other industries. Small wonder that Lofgren who is a Bay-Area Representative is the one sponsoring the auction system. Many Si valley jobs for which H1Bs are hired are generalist in nature. And it is for generic programmer jobs that you have potential for wage abuse. But outside Si valley, for much lesser wages, companies rely on highly specialized skills. So specialized that often these are jobs-for-life without much transferability. Think about skills in microbiology, materials science, etc. relevant to specific products in specific companies like P&G, Dow, etc. These employers and employees will be majorly shafted if legislation is made with just Silicon Valley in mind.

The whole notion of pay big $$s if the specialized skills are worth so much is wrong because these companies have smaller budgets for personnel than plant.


The fixation on Silicon Valley isn't dumb when wages were deliberately suppressed by Google, Apple, Adobe and others. The big tech companies really do want to keep salaries low and H1Bs can help them with that, along with paying for the really smart people that they can bring in too.


Except that Google, Facebook, Cisco would gladly sponsor you for green card - if they're gaming the system they would surely try to string you along until you've used up your H1B renewal before doing that?


If you start out making much less than other candidates, even after many years of CoL raises you will still be making less.

Source: drastically underpaid for my experience because I was an idiot.


At one of the big Silicon Valley tech companies? Google at least has a policy that promotions & annual raises normalize to level-defined salary bands, i.e. if you have a higher salary coming in relative to your coworkers of equal skill, you will get smaller raises until your salaries equalize.


Google also had artificially lower salary bands by colluding with other tech companies to not fight for talent.


Well, true, and I'm not exactly happy about that...but that cartel was eventually broken when Facebook refused to play ball.


The point is that Google purposefully tried to keep the wages low. If not for FB, they would have never changed the practice. I have zero trust in Google for doing the right thing regarding salaries.


You don't have to trust in Google, only in self-interest. The reason FB broke the cartel is because they felt they could pick up some talented people by paying more. The reason Google normalizes salaries is because it negatively affects morale (and hence productivity & retention) when you have people paid dramatically different amounts for equal work. The reason big tech companies sponsor green cards is so they don't have to use up their H1B quota on you, and can instead get new H1Bs. They may not be doing it for your benefit, but that doesn't mean that you don't benefit from it.


The fun thing is that it also probably reveals a bunch of other problems, like the issue of admission of wrongdoing in settlements.


No, never moved to California. I'll defend that one as not a mistake, though.


Yes, everyone wants to keep their costs low. Especially software companies because most of their expenditure is on personnel. However, in meat-space companies like pharma, chemicals, etc. plant, hard goods, etc. cost more than personnel. A senior-level manager often cannot pay $30k extra just to match Si valley salaries in an auction because they don't have so much room on personnel.

These norms are not set by individuals, but by a system of financial analysts, shareholders (think large pension funds, etc.), etc.


> this fixation on Silicon Valley is dumb

The tech industry accounts for the vast majority of H1B visas: http://www.myvisajobs.com/Reports/2017-H1B-Visa-Category.asp...


"vast majority" still excludes tens of thousands of people. These are real people with real families and real jobs in real companies, not just some statistical data points.


So a fix for 90% of the problem is out because it's bad for a small percentage? Everything is a trade-off, a solutions for the vast majority of cases outweighs the inconvenience on a small minority


Uh ok. You can slice up 90% in many ways. But why choose to cut it such that you lose 100% of other industries? That sounds quite effed up.


"lottery based skilled visa" sums it up.

I am not assuming that you are in Detroit. I used to work remotely for an Automotive company in Detroit for their telematics unit. Some colleagues I know commute from Windsor.


Lottery based skilled visa means that there's many more skilled people on the other side, and less spots for them. Unless you have a way of quantifying extremely small differences in skill (and keeping the process balanced), I don't see how you feel a lottery is unfair.


Not entirely true. Companies like Infosys, cognizant, Accenture spams the visa applications with huge amounts, causing the H1B visas go into lottery process (if applications exceed the 85k visa availability). And for this spamming they deserve to be blamed. These companies alone file more than 100k LCAs each year. LCA is the first step before applying for H1B. This is a major issue for students who pursue Masters in US Universities, gain very special skills and have to leave US because they couldnt get the lottery. There's a difference between skilled people and talented people with specialized skills.

edit: one can write good programs, other can invent frameworks


The Masters in US is gamed too. Many of those students are the ones who could not clear the campus interviews of Infosys, Cognizant or Accenture when they were in the college for Bachelors. So they come to "study" MS in the US so that they can get into the H1B system easily.

As far as I know, the MS hires do not posses any special skills. Most of them fake their experiences to get into the companies. There are specific "one room consultancy" companies setup in the US to hire these MS graduates in OPT, fake their resumes, run their fake payrolls and push them to an employer.


"The Masters in US is gamed too. Many of those students are the ones who could not clear the campus interviews of Infosys, Cognizant or Accenture when they were in the college for Bachelors. So they come to "study" MS in the US so that they can get into the H1B system easily."

I don't mind a bit of cynicism but this is absurd. Why the hell is "study" in scare quotes? It's a pretty standard thing for fresh graduates to better their chances for employment by getting higher degrees.

"As far as I know, the MS hires do not posses any special skills."

Maybe you should keep your speculations to things you do know.

I think you're being making the classic mistake of using your narrow experience range into making far larger proclamations based on speculations and innuendo. As an employer in silicon valley myself, I would definitely look upon a resume from a person with a Master's degree from US more closely than someone coming off of the infosys/wipro train. That is not to say that there's a clear yes or no either way but having an MS from a US university is at least one positive signal among other signals I'd look for in a resumé.


How about IITians from India, getting high quality education for free using Indian tax payers money and moving to US.

Someone coming off the free education that the Indian government provided using Indian tax payers money should keep quiet and should be ashamed of himself to be called a silicon valley employer.

You are welcome - An Indian tax payer.


"user: throw2bit" "created: 2 hours ago"

"You are welcome - An Indian tax payer."

I would have thought about dignifying this childish tantrum with a response if you at least had the decency and guts to write this under a real name.


you are partially right about the 'gamed' system and contractors gaming the process. However,'the MS hires do not posses any special skills. Most of them fake their experiences to get into the companies.' this is not entirely true.


Points based system is the right way of quantifying skills & it seems to be working well for Canada.

for ex: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/express-entry/grid-crs.asp


Anything else than pure salary can be gamed. We are for better or worse a capitalist society so lets use the one currency we have to determine who is most needed instead of making up new currencies.


Why don't we just allow more of them to become Americans?


This. We can happily allow millions of illegal immigrants in to work as seasonal farm labor, or import unskilled refugees from war-torn, ideologically questionable areas, that become a drain on social services, but we throw up barriers for well-educated people who will immediately start contributing, if we'd let them. It's nuts.


Hear, hear! I am firmly in the camp of the people who are really ticked off about illegal immigration, but in addition to stopping that, I've always thought that we should be increasing _legal_ immigration as much as possible.

I'm so sick of people copping out and trying to have it both ways. Bring in the immigrants who want to work, especially if they have skills. Filter out the gangbangers and the terrorists as much as possible. Win-win. Today we have the worst of both worlds.


That your first adjective to describe war zone refugees is unskilled says more about you than anything else.


Well, the car companies and other companies need to open up offices where tech workers want to live as some firms have already done. Sorry, but a lot of tech people don't necessarily want to live in Detroit or parts of Michigan. They do want to live in SF, Boston, NYC, DC.


> "We were bound to the employer with no hopes of promotion and the long wait for GreenCard (10 years)."

I don't doubt that many immigrants harbor this impression, but it is wrong. A H1B visa holder can switch companies at any time, by having that company apply to have the visa transferred to them. 99.9% of the time, this doesn't impact your GreenCard wait at all, because your Priority Date can also be transferred to your new Green Card application. I have a friend who has been on a H1B for 8 years, is currently at his 4th job, negotiated a 30% pay bump every time he switched, and still has the same Green-Card priority date that he had from his first application.

The fact that so many H1B workers harbor this misconception, and are afraid to switch jobs, is what gives employers the confidence to abuse their employees. If enough H1B workers start quitting on bad bosses, we'll see some pretty rapid change.


Eh, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I say this as someone who actually went through the process.

Sure you can switch employers while on an H1B. I did. But that's an extra moving part added to the process. It's extra effort added to both sides, employer and employee. They need to really want to hire you to go through all that. If it's a tiny startup, the amount of work might just be too much (and you wouldn't want to work for a tiny startup anyway, as an H1B worker).

Also, if you somehow lose your job as an H1B holder, you only have a limited time interval to get a new job. There's a lot of pressure to just accept any job that comes along, regardless of all other considerations.

Also, typecasting is very real. The whole H1B / greencard process really, really puts the pressure on you to stay in the same job description for a long time. It's not set in stone, and there are exceptions, but as a rule you're basically forced into a straightjacket.

Basically, if you're caught in this process, there's the freedom & opportunity Big Carrot dangling ahead at the end of many years of wait. Meanwhile, your hands are tied and your actions are to a large extent dictated by a faceless, remote bureaucracy that has the full power to decide your fate. It's extremely frustrating.


I'm so pleased to hear this. Please, fellow American citizen hopefuls and potential American citizens tired of Trump, come on over to Vancouver or Toronto, we desperately need you to raise the decade old stagnation of tech worker's salaries.

All is not well. You are going to have to deal with a significant salary cut around 40~50% not factoring in exchange rates. You also have to deal with small supply, high rent and cost of living. Prepare to commute for hours packed into the Skytrain like sardines in a can and bus. that is provided you don't get "renovicted" where landlord kicks you out to accommodate their relatives. You also have to deal with the isolation, cliquey and outwardly friendly but internally unfriendly and flaky citizens and sleepy eyed nature of No Fun City. You also have to deal with the fact that this is essentially a socialist country with socialist values which means lot of your taxes are going to people who have nothing to do with you or care for.

But hey, our ruling party thinks that's a small price to pay for Living In the Best Place on Earth™


Unless you make an obscene income (a few 100k) or lower your taxes by holding a mortgage, you'll be paying more taxes (which includes Medicaid, Social Security, etc.) in California than in Ontario or BC.

The rest of your post sounds about right.


who is paying 100,000 USD / year in Vancouver vs 30,000 USD / year for a junior developer?

It's unbelievable that the average entry level's tech worker in Vancouver makes just as much as a barista in Seattle.

You can't compete or create a world class unicorn in Vancouver, period.


Dude, we already have that. It's called San Francisco.


Do you have 30,000 USD / year average salaries for junior developers there too?

I think not.


Canadian by birth. Indian by ethnicity. Vancouverite by choice. Let me know if you have questions about relocating, personal or professional.


So, dumb question, how easy is it to obtain a Canadian work permit/residency but continue working in the Valley?


Very hard. You need a US work permit to work in the Valley. Most early stage companies are not gonna have a Canadian subsidiary.

I do run a consulting company that consults to US companies. That is possible. But at that point, if you consult with startups, you won't be getting options.


As another Canadian, we need more people like you here! You guys make a significant contribution to our country :)


Happy to be at a place where my skills are appreciated. More of my friends will soon be ex H1Bs.


As a Canadian, it is my pleasure to welcome you into our community!


I really feel welcomed here. I should have done this earlier, but better late than never.


Darn it Canada! Can you stop being nice for a second while we in the US figure out what we're doing? /s


Seriously Canada... Seriously! Stop being nice.


Did you do the immigration paperwork before looking for a job in Canada? What I'd like to know is if its better to have this paperwork sorted out before applying for jobs in Canada.


Interesting that age figures so heavily into this scoring system...


But pretty logical, no? You don't want someone to migrate to your country in his late 50's / early 60's, contribute to your economy for a few token years and then piggyback on your medical welfare system for rest of 15-20 years. Whats the incentive for local citizens to welcome immigrants in that case? (And no, I don't want to consider rare examples of superstars in their 60's. I am just talking about average Joe's).


Some studies (search Google) have shown the average age of an entrepreneur is around 40. And I'd like to see the backlash the US would get from the world if they implemented many of these criteria.


Canada has a separate visa process for entrepreneurs:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/entrepre...

The program being cited is for workers, similar to the US H1B. And others have addressed why age is a sensible factor.


You can't get social security unless you pay in for a sufficient number of years


But that's not the only program. You can get Supplemental Security Income without even being a citizen or ever having paid in.

https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-non-citizens.htm

Also you can generally get Medicare if you're old and you've paid in for a few years.


It makes some sense as a way to weight for "promise". Many of the other factors (level of education, language ability, work experience) are measuring things that an older candidate will be more likely to have already, but which a younger candidate may be more easily able to acquire after immigrating.


> the long wait for GreenCard (10 years).

Can you explain this? I'm currently waiting for a greencard.


green cards are equally distributed to all countries. 7%? hence the amount of time you will wait is dependent on where you are from. for india/china, i believe its close to 8-9 years. but if you come from a country where no one applies for green card, chances are this process will be done in 6 months.


So you're talking about a sponsored greencard by your company? This is weird as this wasn't mentioned to me. There is a fixed step-by-step process to have a greencard and you have to go through all of them.


> green cards are equally distributed to all countries.

Well, no, but there is a cap on the per-country share of the total quota in each eligible category.


Did you hire a lawyer to do the paperwork or did you do it yourself ?


No lawyers needed. Its a simple online system. If you have the skills and you can prove it( IELTS,work experience,your degrees), the system awards you the points. No employers needed, no lawyers needed, you are totally in control of your visa. This is the beauty of this system. There is no place for bad apples like the H1B in this skills based system. You cannot fake it.

"May the skilled ones win"


Out of curiosity, which language test did you take?


IELTS (Non academic stream)


Thanks, Do you know how long it might take to get that approved?


If you satisfy the points under this grid -

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/express-entry/grid-crs.asp

and your documentations are correct, 6 months is the SLA.


For anyone considering this who has an American criminal record, even a misdemeanor (!), understand that it is extraordinarily easy to become permanently barred from Canada if you don't perform the immigration steps correctly. There is an official bribe of up to $1,000 that must be paid before you can even be considered, and unless you are exactly truthful to a fault the Canadians can find cause to permanently and irrevocably bar entry. They have access to American criminal databases and you will be checked, and turned back, at the border for even a day trip. (This bugs me by itself. I didn't harm your sovereign state.)

I know of one person who will never in her life see Canada because she got the paperwork about a twenty-year-old misdemeanor wrong, even after the $1,000 appeal to the Minister. Definitely get a lawyer. The fetish for American criminality is one thing about Canadian immigration that I would hope to see reformed. Canada is very welcoming unless you've had a taste of American justice, then they make you work very hard to enter. Caring about criminal records is common, of course; having direct access to neighboring criminal records is not, among most world countries.

Given that a number of American states are law-and-order criminal record factories, and given that a criminal record is not necessarily indicative of someone's life (if it were, I'd be selling heroin instead of debugging right now), it seems time for Canadians to revisit this policy. I'm guessing there was a flood of cons to Canada at some point that made them skittish and enshrine a bunch of hoops in legislation. With a lot of Americans now looking for possibilities such as these in the current environment, there is a huge reform opportunity here to make Canada even more welcoming.


> I'm guessing there was a flood of cons to Canada at some point that made them skittish and enshrine a bunch of hoops in legislation.

Not really; it's more of an outcome of political balance. Our conservatives have historically been ornery about immigration, but our progressives made it a focus of their policy. (This is very untrue now, few outright oppose immigration, but historically shaped the dialogue). To accommodate the disagreement we somehow came to a skills-oriented system with a high-threshold for ability and other qualities.

We have/had our own problem with authoritarians, and it's shaped our policies in some particularly Canadian ways.


It's worth putting in a shout-out to Lofgren's H1B bill:

https://lofgren.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentI...

Far from "emasculating" it like the article suggests, the "bucketing" system in Lofgren's bill is designed to put upward pressure on all wages, including those of American citizens. The way that it works is that positions paying in the top 2/3 of the average wage for their geographical area will get priority over those that pay only the average wage, regardless of how much they pay their H1Bs. (And within the bucket, they get priority based on how much more than the prevailing wage they pay the H1B worker.) This prevents companies from bidding up the price of their H1B workers only, and forces them to raise wages for all of their American citizens as well in order to take advantage of the market-based allocation of H1Bs.


I'm a big fan of her bill for the above (market-based) approach and other reasons:

- F-1 student visa becomes dual-intent. This is huge! Essentially an employer could now sponsor permanent residency directly out of a PhD program (or even college assuming sufficient work experience for employment-based immigration). No need to first get a H-1B.

- It appears that switching employers while on the H-1B becomes easier (the new employer must only submit the Labor Condition Application). This will provide mobility to H-1B workers and therefore not suppress wages.

- 20% of H-1B visas are set aside for startups and small businesses, and to prevent these from becoming subsidiaries of outsourcing firms the H-1B holder may not be working at a 3rd party worksite for more than 30 days.

- H-1B dependent companies (8 H-1Bs if < 26 employees, 11 H-1Bs if 26-50, 15% of workforce if 50+) either must prove that no US citizen is being displaced, or they must pay at least the dependent company exemption minimum salary of $130,000.

Note: I'm a former Math & Comp Sci (double major) international student (F-1 visa) from a top tier school, then H-1B, permanent resident, and this week (!) will become a citizen.

Bill Summary: https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/high_skilled_bill_sx...


this week* unless trump does something to this process ;) just kidding. congrats!


You joke, but that definitely has crossed my mind. I've been avoiding the recent protests out of an abundance of caution.

But I'm prepared [1] for my first day as a citizen tomorrow.

[1]: medium.com/@BerndVerst/preparing-for-my-first-day-as-a-u-s-citizen-2be7e4719317


Also of note, the H.R.392 - Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 [1] aims to fix the green card backlogs by removing the per-country quotas.

[1]: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/392/...


H-1B and J-1 consulting and labor firms are far more nefarious than people probably think.

Most of my personal experience is with J-1 pimps. These "firms" import seasonal labor and directly collect wages from the hiring company. The catch is as old as markets, as they usually debit housing, food, and fees that are grossly outside of true cost, but allow for just enough origin country adjusted income to still make sense for students to keep signing on. I have dealt with these firms from Eastern Europe and South America, with both operating on the razors edge of indentured servitude. These exact same practices dominate the H-1B program.

The most effective change to any of these programs, outside of just volume, would be the direct to employee payment requirement or minimum percentage. That change would force the either higher salaries in order to maintain the labor firms margins, or the labor firms would have to eat the cost to keep the prices down. Enforcement would have to be extreme. As the nature of the relationship between the firm and the visa holder is already indebted, and there would be lots of opportunity for harassment and coercion of the visa holder to fork over more of their paycheck.

Addition: Another solution may be a visa marketplace that the government would run, to connect employers and visa seekers directly and eliminate the middle man.


How about simply allowing H-1Bs to change jobs if they get an offer from another company, and giving them a sufficient window to find something new if they leave their current company? The no-recourse indentured servitude relationship that makes people dependent on a company for their residency takes away all the employee's negotiating power. If we could change this, I expect that wages would begin to even out.


They can. It's just painful and depending on the competency of both companies legal counsel, it can take months. We've had employees accept offers with a start date, only the visa transfers weren't finished yet so they started MONTHS after the expected start date.


It probably needs to be made easier then, so the H1B can switch jobs as easily as a native worker.

I have not had to deal with US immigration, but my impression is the H1B process is between the employer and the government. It would probably help to make that between the employee and the government, to give the employee more control.


I used to work at a company that had a lot of H-1Bs and treated them terribly. Whenever someone was trying to transfer of get a green card there was some involvement with their current employer, and I always used to wonder "What incentive to they have to do this quickly and correctly?"


The other problem is that AFAIK the 10-year-long Green Card clock resets if they change jobs, so there's a strong incentive not to leave.


H.R.392 - Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 [1] aims to fix the green card backlogs by removing the per-country quotas.

[1]: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/392/...


The J-1 program is readily abused. I've known young people abroad just graduated with finance or accounting degree are brought in under the J-1 program, under the guise of "business training" for 3 months. They end up doing retail work in bakery or manual work in the kitchen for minimum wage. They have to pay for their own cost for flight, food, and room.


In the early 2000s my dad left his cushy job as an electrical engineer at a nuclear power plant in eastern europe to come to the US with an H1B to fix AC systems for a company owned by an eastern european that only hired immigrants.

They would count the price of plane ticket, technical training classes, english classes, etc to a "debt" that you had to pay off. You would get paid a salary, but depending on how much money you made the company each month, this debt would either go up or down, and the company claimed you wouldn't be able to leave the company until you paid off this debt (eventually my dad figure out that this was not true or at least not legal, but this policy still goes on as we speak).

You can imagine most people who worked there struggled for years to pay off said debt.


Ok what's the suprise here? If you give companies a chance to get cheaper "mostly the same" labor without a downside, or maybe with the upside they can't leave, they're going to take it. That's why I do believe globalization and the availability of huge amounts of cheap unregulated labor does hurt American jobs and industry. Its not xenophobia, its just common sense. I think if you look past any ideas of racism, xenophobia, etc, you'll see that in plain economic terms, Trump is right -- but it applies to every industry, not just SV. Imagine how if this is applicable to something requiring the skills of software development, how much more so it would be true of some low-skill job.


It's not obvious at all. Shipping lower skilled jobs to other countries mean higher margins for US companies. Which is good in itself for the US economy. Buying manufacturing from other countries means it's easier to sell stuff to them as well, which is also good to US economy. The fact is that the US has a very good overall economy, so maybe one has to look at the issue of redistribution of wealth for instance.

Economy-wise, the problem is a lot more complex than what you make it appear. You can't just say: economically speaking it makes sense to close the borders...


I think you're missing two key points here - 1) what are corporations doing with their increased profits as a result of tactics like abuse of the H1B system?, and 2) what portion of H1B salaries ends up back in the US economy vs. abroad?

The net effect for the overall economy is only going to be better under the current H1B system if companies reinvest their profits into productive uses, which they haven't been [1]. And if H1B workers spend their earnings in the US instead of sending that money back home. I don't have solid data on this last point, but having worked with many H1Bs over the years I can at least anecdotally confirm it.

You can also look at our trade deficit with India as another data point here [2]. We are not, in fact, selling more stuff into India than they sell us. There's a pretty strong argument to be made that the current system is more harmful than helpful to the economy as a whole.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/magazine/why-are-corporat... [2] https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/south-central-asia/india


It's not about selling stuff to India, its about selling stuff to the world and Indian developers help us do that.

And it's not H1B abuse it's what it's intended for. Since we slammed the door on immigration 50 years ago, this program was created to release a tiny amount of the massive pressure of super smart people world wide who want to come to the US and help make it better.

It's funny that engineers don't get the massive benefits of free trade that built this country, and the huge risks (Smoot Hawley) of trade barriers to our economy.

Every dollar we send to India has to be spent in the US to be worth anything. They can save it, store it, send it to other countries, but it's nothing but imaginary paper if no one ever buys something from the US or reinvests it here.

And if you are tired of foreigners buying our T-Bills instead of our goods/services, then stop running such massive budget deficits and fix the corporate income tax system that is taxing reinvested capital so highly that US firms are forced to park their foreign profits overseas to avoid losing nearly half of them to federal and state taxes. It's like a farmer eating their seed corn.


I'm sorry, but I'm somewhat confused by your comment. Are you for or against the current H1B system? I'm not sure what economic outcome you're saying is its natural result.

To your point on corporate taxes, please see [1] and [2]. The effective tax rate on US corporations is on par with that for corporations in other large Western countries. I'm all for reforming the corporate tax code, but talking about it as though the effective rates are sky-high is not really going to get us very far.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/taxanalysts/2015/03/25/the-truth...

[2] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42726.pdf


Even after then restoring manufacturing may be non-trivial. I have been thinking that currently NAND fabs would be good, not to restore jobs but to restore the balance of trade. It is probably not a simple matter though.


And if H1B workers spend their earnings in the US instead of sending that money back home.

What? They're spending no money on rent, food or taxes? How's that possible?

And what about the Americans who save their money?


It's a matter of amounts, not of yes/no. Of course they pay rent and buy food, but in what comparative amounts? If you send half of your money outside the country, where very little of it makes its way back to supporting the US economy, that's worse than if your salary was given to someone who was going to use it all inside the US. If you disagree with that, please provide some numbers for us to use as examples.

Also, please point me to these Americans who save their money. The average domestic savings rate is 5.7% and almost all of that is money stored in US bank accounts and stocks, which in turn is used to help the US economy.


> 1) what are corporations doing with their increased profits as a result of tactics like abuse of the H1B system?

I'll answer that for anyone confused: stock buybacks, of course!


> Shipping lower skilled jobs to other countries mean higher margins for US companies. Which is good in itself for the US economy.

US companies and the collection of US voters are different. Their interests do not always coincide.

One might say that higher margins are "good for the US economy", but that doesn't mean they're good for every person participating in the US economy -- which is what the US voter cares more about.

It's important to recognize that US Companies, to a great degree, are owned by shareholders. It is the shareholders who receive the profit.

The fact that Walmart sells goods manufactured overseas, giving it higher margins, has allowed various members of the Walton family to become billionaires. But someone working as a Walmart greeter probably sees very little benefit.

And, of course, the now unemployed US manufacturing workers/voters do benefit a little from Walmart's lower prices as customers. But, it's reasonable to question whether such workers are better off unemployed, even if they are able to buy cheap products from Walmart.


The shareholders are us, our 401ks, our pensions, etc. Overall, higher margins are good for us.

Walmart should not sell higher cost products just to have them made in this country. The ability to specialize is why free trade makes both parties wealthier, if we can't make bicycles as well as the chinese, then let them make the bikes and we'll sell them smartphones and apps.

If you were a lawyer making $300 an hour and could type 200 WPM, would you hire a secretary for $30/hour who could only type 100 WPM to type your filings for you? Of course you would because that means you can bill more $300 hours. Thats the specialization of free trade.


> The shareholders are us, our 401ks, our pensions, etc. Overall, higher margins are good for us.

The people working shit jobs at Walmart don't have 401ks or pensions. Or maybe they did, back when there were some good manufacturing jobs that produced goods locally, instead of being outsourced to the other side of the world.


Running a cash register isn't a high skill job, do you think they'd get paid more if the goods were american, because they wouldn't.

But the savings passed to consumers is spent on lots of things, like apps. And app developers are doing pretty good.

The economy is much more fluid that you seem to understand.


Specialization only works on seller's market, i.e. when there's more demand than capacity. If there's more capacity than demand, it makes sense to try and capture bigger share of the market while being less efficient at delivery.


I think the basic idea is that the economy has operated on credit since the 1970s, with both a budget and a trade deficit. The idea is that debt increases over time, and obviously they want to get as much as possible of the extra debt. That is why higher profit margins are good for the US economy.


There have been many studies on this.

Conservatives usually use the phrase "at best, the impact is nil"

Liberals usually use the phrase "at worst, the impact is nil"

Because the study shows there is negligible impact. Every laborer is also a spender. If the person saves, then every laborer is also an investor.

If you believe in the mainstream economic theory, more jobs are produced for the ones that are "taken."

You might ask where are those jobs, and then people will say they are in new fields and require training etc.

The debate goes on: why aren't tech jobs in short supply? A: They are. Q: I don't see that, where? A: there isn't one "tech", there are many different fields and they are in short supply in the important ones etc.

It is not as straightforward as you make it out to be.


Every job taken from Americans is another American taking from the system. Taking tax money. So its not as easy as you would think either.


Oh, that is true.

The unhired foreigner would not end up taking taxes.

I wonder how the math works.

If the company has to pay the extra tax hit when laying off the American, that might let the company decide if it is worth it.


> Because the study shows there is negligible impact. Every laborer is also a spender. If the person saves, then every laborer is also an investor. See the sweatshops, guess they are just "another spender": http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103798/Revealed-Ins...


I said immigration may not cost jobs.

And you responded with poverty is bad.

If that was a response to what I said, I don't see how.


Your point was that the impact of using non-American labor was essentially nil in every study ever done. My point was that replacing a $25 / hr union factory worker who has healthcare and PTO, with a $2/hr factory worker in a "suicide sweatshop" is not nil. You said that in general, the replacement workers are just economic spenders too, and I provided a counter example (don't seem like these Chinese workers are likely to buy $800 iphones anytime soon).


Okay, I now see what you are saying. So let's take apart those two points.

You might be asking how could replacing a $25 worker with a $2 worker -- foreign, domestic, etc doesn't matter -- have no economic impact on jobs and wages?

So one might argue the following: The company paying the $25 to the first worker, now has $23 in profit/savings. What happens to that money?

They might reinvest it, they might pay it out as dividends, or they might use it for an acquisition, or they might reduce the cost of the good sold (passing it to the consumer). And so on.

Whatever they choose to do will end up creating more jobs and boosting wages in something else.

Now, you might say -- and I won't disagree -- that if they pay them out as dividends then the kinds of jobs they will produce is ship building for yachts, and massages for rich people and perhaps you don't agree with that kind of redistribution.

That may be, but purely from an economic perspective the net impact of jobs and wages has not been significant.


"from an economic perspective the net impact of jobs and wages has not been significant."

I suppose you mean "from a global financial economic perspective". And you are right, of course: income equals expenditure.

From a economic local perspective, you have now a worker that before won 25$ and now doesn't. He is pissed off, and it's going to vote somebody that looks angry too.

You have 23$ in profit that will go (with a short stop in Ireland first) to buy an empty condo-mine in London or will be invested in places with 2$ waves in order to repeat the operation.

But, yes, the USA commercial deficit is totally the fault of the Chinese.


No, I did not mean from a "global" perspective.

Most of that money is likely to be re-invested or spent in the United States.

You make a whole host of claims in your 4th sentence about the London condo mines etc. which I don't understand.

Just to be clear: the price of commodities don't get magically untaxed by Ireland. The transfer pricing only applies in cases where the value-add is not objective such as IP.

If the $23 were re-invested it would increase jobs and increase wages too.


> Whatever they choose to do will end up creating more jobs and boosting wages in something else.

not if they stash it in an offshore tax-haven in the Cayman Islands.


If Walmart replaces it's american made bikes with chinese bikes, and saves every family in america that shops there $10 on their bike purchases, that savings gets spent elsewhere in america.

The dollars that go to china get either spent or reinvested here. And Chinese purchases of iPhones has exploded over the last few years.


> Every laborer is also a spender. If the person saves, then every laborer is also an investor.

What about laborers who send most of their earnings back to family in their home country?


How will a laborers family spend US Dollars in a foreign country? Hint: the money always gets spent back in the US by someone.


Good point. I am not sure how that would work. (Any economists reading HN?)

There are two things to be said from the studies:

1. So far that doesn't seem to be significant, although I don't know if, in theory, it could get worse.

2. I wonder if that country consumes a lot of US goods, it might still end up netting a positive. (Not sure about this).


"The impact is nil" is impressive distillation of each side's philosophical endpoints :)

But, since we are talking about political ends, the words 'should be' probably belongs after 'impact'.


Do you have a link for the studies?


> That's why I do believe globalization and the availability of huge amounts of cheap unregulated labor does hurt American jobs and industry. Its not xenophobia, its just common sense.

I'm not sure what you mean by unregulated labor, but the bigger problem in this specific case is not the foreign worker, but the fact that they don't have freedom of movement once hired. If they could transfer job easily, companies would have to pay closer to market salaries.


Was referring more to general case, like using less regulated labor abroad (China, Mexico). It has an impact because workers in the US or other first world countries are essentially in an unfair competition those workers can't demand benefits or higher salaries, and the US workers can't "skirt the law" to take lower wages or benefits (for example you can't pay a factory worker $2 / hr in the US). Put it another way, the law essentially says "If you use workers here, your minimum cost is $X. You have unlimited freedom to use workers elsewhere though, and you don't have to follow these rules in that case."


Globalization has made the US massively wealthy since the American Revolution. We rely on the ability to sell our goods and services across the world, cut off the world and we get poorer. Look up Smoot Hawley.

These engineers will be working for our foreign competitors if Trump has his way, how is it good for our economy if more apps are sold by foreign firms, that Samsung sells more phones, etc, etc?


It's made the wealthy US 1% wealthier.


In reality, it's made more than just the 1% wealthier, but the balance is that it's made a whole lot more people poorer. I don't have references, but I remember reading them at some point, in terms of numbers there have been more losers than winners when you look at inflation adjusted wages.


My point here is that its not surprising that a company takes a better cheaper option that can't just leave, and often costs less and has fewer regulations. That means that its worse for the average American worker, because they either have to lower standards and wages to compete, or just lose the potential job.


My experience has been that my H1-B coworkers don't get paid as well as US counterparts sand that there is significant friction for them to change companies or even get a big promotion if they are in process of applying for green card. Rather than adding more rules to an already difficult process though I think the best solution would be to allow people with H1-B to easily change jobs after some period of time at the original sponsoring company (e.g. 6-12 months). That way it would be harder to pay below market rates and would be much more dynamic than having the government trying to estimate what the prevailing wage should be.

I get really frustrated though with most articles on the H1-B visas which either seem to be bashing immigrants or imply that somehow more government regulation will help the situation. In my experience growing up in the US we are incredibly lucky to have such talented people coming here to work and they have contributed incredibly to the tech companies in the US which are really one of the few bright spots in the US economy. Some of the smartest and hardest working colleagues I have grew up in other countries and we are lucky that they have come here to build the US economy.


True, I read somewhere that majority of scientists are immigrants, heck, even Donald Trump's grandpa was a German Immigrant!


> Their lobbyists claim there is a “talent shortage” among Americans and thus that the industry needs more of such work visas. This is patently false

There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years. Not sure why this point is still controversial.

> most Silicon Valley firms sponsor their H-1B workers, who hold a temporary visa, for U.S. permanent residency (green card) [...] sponsorship renders the workers de facto indentured servants; though they have the right to move to another employer, they do not dare do so, as it would mean starting the lengthy green card process all over again.

Then the problem might be with how long the gov takes to process these things, and not with the H1B visas?

> the H-1B program is an enabler of rampant age discrimination in the tech industry [...] Almost all the H-1Bs are young

Younger people are more willing to move to another country. Also, many students apply for an H1b after their F1 runs out, so of course you get younger people.

And this is just from the first page. I feel like the author is just throwing every possible argument against the H1B, instead of making one good coherent point. =/


> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years. Not sure why this point is still controversial.

Is this a fact or a feeling? Economics allows us to directly measure these things and the price of labor hasn't gone up in the last 30 years at rates indicating a shortage with executive pay and corporate profits at all time highs.

> Then the problem might be with how long the gov takes to process these things, and not with the H1B visas?

I think his point was the visa system is designed to take advantage of the inefficiencies in the bureaucracy to the benefit of the employer.

> Younger people are more willing to move to another country. Also, many students apply for an H1b after their F1 runs out, so of course you get younger people.

If the H1B visa didn't exist there wouldn't be as many foreign students.

You should read his blog, he makes repeated coherent arguments against the H1B visa system and its detrimental effects on the employment outlook for older citizens. He is a CS professor at a respected US university and has an interesting perspective.


Economics allows us to directly measure these things and the price of labor hasn't gone up in the last 30 years...

Real compensation per hour (for workers as a whole) has gone up 40% since 1987. This number is adjusted for inflation.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/COMPRNFB

Pay in software has been rising more rapidly than pay for the country as a whole. Is this even remotely in doubt?

http://insights.dice.com/2013/01/22/tech-professionals-enjoy...


There are studies performed on this stuff by actual economists out there, to save you using self-reporting surveys from online recruitment companies.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-stem-crisis-i...

http://www.epi.org/publication/pm195-stem-labor-shortages-mi...

>The average hourly wage for college-educated workers in computer and math occupations rose 5.3 percent over 11 years, from $37.27 in 2000 to $39.24 in 2011 (in 2012 dollars), which translates to an average wage increase of less than half a percent per year. If a labor shortage existed in these occupations, one would expect wages to rise sharply as employers try to lure scarce workers to their firms.


If your study is claiming that software engineer compensation rose no more rapidly than the population at as a whole (they also saw a 5% increase), then something is deeply wrong with your study.

Note that "Computer and math occupations" is a broad catch-all term which includes all sorts of professions, such as:

Computer User Support Specialist: Provide technical assistance to computer users. Answer questions or resolve computer problems for clients in person, or via telephone or electronically. May provide assistance concerning the use of computer hardware and software, including printing, installation, word processing, electronic mail, and operating systems. Excludes "Network and Computer Systems Administrators" (15-1142).

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes150000.htm

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151151.htm

No one claimed that the guy who fixes your printer or helps you change the font in word experienced large pay increases.


If your contention that it rose is based on your experience in SV or NY or similar, then you're probably not getting a complete picture of the state of the industry.


Here in flyover country, companies are paying new-grad software engineers 30-38k.


Do you have an actual tech sector where you're at though. I also live in a flyover state and the average salary for a software engineer is $91,894, and that's well below the national average.

For S&G, I looked up salaries for software engineers in some random cities in the middle of nowhere and I have yet to find a place with an average salary close to that. Edmond, OK: 73,005; Eden Prairie, MN: 77,325 (23% below the national average); and the worst so far: Tuscaloosa, AL: $62,020.

Perhaps a few companies can get away paying so little, but it's hard to say that's the norm when they are so far below average, even for towns in the middle of nowhere.


Here in dirt poor arizona new grad software engineers make $70K+


I am in Indiana. We pay new grads about 70k. Senior software engineers (10y/xp) are earning 100-130k+bonus.


And how does cost of living compare? Median salary?


Don't get me wrong, the cost of living is much lower than SV, but there are several major industries here that pay 2-3x that rate for less skilled work. Even many service-type jobs pay better. A buddy of mine that dropped out of college was making more money than I did right out of school managing McDonald's.

I personally left software engineering (regretfully, I love it, and still do what personal projects I can) to do a government job that is at least somewhat technical that constituted a massive raise over my old salary - and as I worked there for a few years and was a high performer, I did get several big raises before leaving.


2000? At the peak of the dot-com boom?


Yeah, that's the part that had me scratching my head. Any study that makes no attempt to smooth out dramatic outlier time periods is highly suspect.


For American workers as a whole, the average hourly wage has about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/09/for-most-wor...


Congrats - you've discovered that compensation has shifted from taxable wages to untaxed benefits.

If you want to solve this then ban employer sponsored health care, matched 401k contributions, and all that.


The WWII-era holdover of making American employers be responsible for their employee healthcare is definitely something that should be gradually reformed out of existence. It used to be an incentive, not a necessity.

And as for 401(k)s, well that's another can of worms that needs to be dealt with: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13304027


So, 1.1% annualized? Do you have numbers for productivity?


It's entirely possible (I am not claiming either way) that both are true: that the H1B system has benefited employers by allowing lower wages and technology growth has increased by access to a broader talent pool than was available in the US alone.

There are very few clean economic metrics - in this case you can't directly measure the effect because you don't have data from an equivalent system without the effect of H1b wages in it. So in the end, as with most economic arguments, it is more art than science.


> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years. Not sure why this point is still controversial.

It's controversial because a number of people, like me, think many companies in SB have arbitrarily high hiring bars, and that a company who claims to tailor their hiring process to minimize false positives at the expense of false negatives has no moral standing to crow about "talent shortages". The shortage is largely irrational and self-inflicted.


> there is a “talent shortage” among Americans

I see a bait and switch conducted here all the time, where thinkpiece writers will count up the number of annual graduates in Computer Science (or sometimes Information Technology in general), subtract the number of new software jobs per year, and conclude that we have massive overproduction of programmers.

This is obviously stupid, but I keep seeing it. It ignores CS graduates who stay in academia or take nonprogramming jobs (e.g. in finance). Often it counts "new software engineering positions", a metric which ranges from insufficient (by excluding Sysadmins and similar) to idiotic (by excluding "programmers" and other job titles the author couldn't be bothered to search for). Shockingly often, it counts new positions but doesn't account for positions vacated by people leaving programming (e.g. to management or retirement). And, of course, it ignores employability, pushing an implication that any CS graduate can fill any software job regardless of specialization, experience, or interest.

It is a relentlessly stupid 'statistic', but I think one reason for this ongoing perception of surplus talent is that people keep rewriting the same silly article.


> implication that any CS graduate can fill any software job regardless of specialization, experience, or interest.

Your basic calculation is still right although I'd add more numbers to the opposite site. "Potential graduates" with or without CS can potentially enter to any software sector, or even hardware. Though this is just a small factor.


This is a good point. Lots of these 'calculations' neglect bootcamp or self-taught programmers, electrical/computer engineers who end up in software, and a lot of other grey-area work like embedded systems programming. The calculations are sloppy enough that I ignore them, but I'm not sure what the total weight of the errors ends up being.


It seems like you're agreeing with the line you quoted? That there isn't a talent shortage?

Anyway having said that, good studies check for shortages and overproductions in more complicated ways than just totting up numbers blindly.


I don't think I'm agreeing with that? There are a bunch of negations in the quote, so: I think there is a talent shortage in some domains.

My point was that the major sources of the "no shortage" or particularly "surplus" claims are doing shoddy math that over-represents the labor pool and under-represents demand. Also, more importantly, they're conflating all types of programming.

There are certainly skillsets/interests where there's no shortage, and there are certainly spaces where there is a shortage. People who don't differentiate 'programming' any further aren't saying something useful, and people who do only disagree on the details.

(I realize good studies check for those things, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about people saying "but aren't there lots of spare programmers we don't need?" because some hack with an infographic subtracted two numbers and found a surplus. I've seen this error pattern in respectable news on a bunch of occasions.)


You're probably right there. And there's presumably shortages and surpluses in different regions of the US. A telling statistic is the amount of people who graduate with IT or STEM degrees, have intentions of working in their respective industries, but have to leave due to an inability to get work, or...unemployment rates for graduates with certain degrees.

It was about 7-12% a couple of years ago for grads from CS, Engineering, and IS, at a time when the national level was lower.

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-my...

I'm not sure if we're on the same page, but my contention is that western governments are encouraging kids to pursue STEM, knowing that there's already an oversupply of workers due to visas issued to emerging economies, and that the issue is compounding year on year.


Wow. That's a decently narrow standard, and I had no idea it was so high.

I object to some specifics - IS without programming education is quite different from CS/programming - but it's still a potent statistic. More narrowly, my (cynical) take is that CS degrees are decidedly unequal. Having seen multiple companies say they only bother with top-seven job fairs, and some genuinely talented friends struggle to land interviews with third-string universities on their resumes, I get the sense that the "shortage" and "surplus" are capable of existing side-by-side.

I completely agree with your conclusion, since it holds regardless of whether I'm right about segmentation within CS degrees: a lot of people are being unhelpfully pushed into "employable" STEM degrees by people who want to look science-friendly, and they're going to be left holding the (unemployment) bag when that doesn't work out.


There's definitely a wide variation in teaching between ostensibly similar courses, which might make some of the simple stats nonsensical.

> I get the sense that the "shortage" and "surplus" are capable of existing side-by-side.

I guess this is fundamentally the issue


Yup. If we had mature education systems our governments would hire economists to get proper estimates of labour market requirements for different skill sets.


There is a big difference between foreign workers who are great and add value, and foreign workers who are brought over, are subsequently exploited, and who are also used to depress the income of the local workforce. Seen it happen.

Then there are the "Indian Mafias" in places like Microsoft, where over 50% of an organization is Indian because they got into a cultural hiring spiral. And the products from those groups are generally pretty awful, because everyone seems to want to be a manager or see how high the next re-org will take them, and not do good designs or write good code.

H1Bs shouldn't be used for job shops, and they shouldn't be used to bring in cheap labor, but that's largely what they're used for now.

A lot of really good Indian engineers are going to get hurt, and that will suck.


>> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years. Not sure why this point is still controversial.

Mainly because we have over 7 million people unemployed. The controversy is why are we bringing in so many foreign workers when we have so many people out of work here?

The argument basically comes down to what would we need to do to get some of these unemployed people here trained to be able to take some of these jobs? and if so, what's that cost compared to these H1-B's were bringing in? Also, at the end of the day, how motivated are those unemployed people to go through the rigorous training in order to be able to take these jobs? If you've spent 20 years putting hubcaps on cars in a factory, are you going to want to take six months to learn basic .Net or Javascript?

I don't have any of the answers, these are just some of the rumblings I've heard from executives I know at various large corporations.


Realistically, most of our 7 million unemployed are unemployed by choice. They are unwilling to do many jobs they perceive as being "below their station" and they are unwilling to move to places where the jobs are.

We need to import a better working class to pay for our leisure class since pushing our leisure class into work is considered socially unacceptable.

Here's a great first person account of this: http://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/12/19/13956666/unemploy... "There have been times where I’ve wondered if I should just get a temporary service or manual labor...I would be too humiliated...a neighbor or friend [might]...see me working the cash register or pumping gas. "

See also NPR's expose on disability fraud: http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/


Again a few examples that are often used to justify calling 7 million people lazy. If the visas are being used for for cash register and pumping gas jobs (how many states pump gas for you?) then this might make some sense but these are just isolated events and fit a narrative convenient to corporations to justify many practices that are mainly beneficial to the corporation.


Realistically, the only thing in support of a ridiculous statement like "most of our 7 million unemployed are unemployed by choice" is that one article, where a person, for multiple reasons not explicitly stated in the article might not want to take a certain demanding manual labor job.

I would suggest coming up with better arguments for the debunked supply side economics you're trying to push.


The last major study I saw on this showed that a large proportion of IT and STEM graduates had to move into unrelated industries due to an inability to find employment.

This meme that there are hordes of people who would choose poverty because of an unwillingness to work is disgusting.


60% of poor adults choose not to work. I'm sorry you consider reality to be "disgusting".

http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publication... Table 3 Page 21

My uncited study says that your uncited study is wrong and the authors of your study are Nazis.


> 60% of poor adults choose not to work. I'm sorry you consider reality to be "disgusting".

Which is not evidence of them being lazy. They could be acting in their own economic best interest by being in a welfare trap.

Not sure what your point is here, other than some welfare programs are poorly structured.


My point is that contra ajnc, there are hordes of people who "choose poverty because of an unwillingness to work".


Where are you getting 60%? Are you adding up the two years?

And I presume you're in the US, but from an external observer's perspective, 'poverty' in the US is extreme and is almost incomprehensible to people the rest of the Western world. These are not people "choosing" to not work, they're the most decrepit, uncared-for group in the developed world.


Table 3 and division.

And I presume you're in the US, but from an external observer's perspective, 'poverty' in the US is extreme and is almost incomprehensible...

I spend about half my time in the US, half in India. So as a semi-external observer, all I can do is laugh at you. Most middle class people would love to live as well as the American poor do. Actually so would many Europeans - Bulgarian GDP/capita is about 1/2 of what the average poor American consumes.

No matter how much you might scoff and sputter, most poor American adults chose not look for work even once in the past year. That's just the basic fact of the matter.


"Table 3 and division."

Or, how about page 24:

Work Experience

In 2014, 6.9 percent of workers aged 18 to 64 were in poverty. The poverty rate for those who worked full time, year round was 3.0 percent, while the poverty rate for those working less than full time, year round was 15.9 percent. None of these rates were statistically different from the 2013 poverty rates (Table 3).

Among those who did not work at least 1 week in 2014, the poverty rate and the number in poverty were 33.7 percent and 16.4 million in 2014, not statistically different from the 2013 estimates (Table 3). Those who did not work in 2014 represented 24.7 percent of all people aged 18 to 64, compared with 61.7 percent of people aged 18 to 64 in poverty.

...which is poorly written.


I can't see what you mean in the Table. I can only see 30% of people who had no work experience in the year in question. I presume that you aren't adding up both years. And I presume that you also noticed that ~15% have a disability.

Yeah I'm sure middle class people in India would love to live "as well" as the American poor do. I was talking about the firmly developed world. Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU and they still have access to free and competent healthcare. Compare that the US where the poor people considered by that table sometimes die because of bad teeth and no immediate access to care.


Take the number of poor between 18 and 64, divide by the number of poor between 18 and 64 who did not work, and you get 61.7%

Of course, the question of whether they "choose" not to work, "choose" to be poor, or if they are "lazy" are judgements not supported by the numbers.

(More worrying is the 40% of the poor who did work.)


Oh yeah I see now, thanks. I was misinterpreting the first column.

Obviously it's impossible to glean motivations from a table, but it's telling to me that among the general population the majority of workers work full time, whereas among the poor it's the opposite, with most working part time for the entire year.

These people would probably be called the 'working poor' in my country; they're trying to work, but unfavourable economic and employment conditions make it difficult to maintain stable/consistent/quality employment. But in comparison to other developed countries, the proportion of workers (in that table) for a poor demographic is relatively high. Which would also signal to me that not only is the demographic not choosing NOT to work, but that they're choosing to work in higher numbers than in other countries despite their poverty (or maybe because of it).

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/Pov_crossnatl...

I still maintain that people don't choose not to work en-masse for extended periods, evidenced by the fact that the US has had full employment for many periods.


...modulo inverting the result.

Math is hard.


A large proportion of IT and STEM grads aren't qualified to do engineering tech jobs.


Surely most aren't. I know in my graduating class in the late 2000s, maybe only 10% had any experience upon graduating. My point here is that the H1B policy has put these grads into an impossible situation, whereby they're competing against people from emerging economies who do have the skills for these entry level jobs, where 10 years ago grads would be hired and get up to speed on the job.

So there isn't an undersupply of willing workers, there's an unwillingness for companies to accept that entry level workers aren't commodities that you buy, ready-packaged to go.

There is no other industry in the world where lobbyists can say "grads don't have the proprietary skills that we need, so give us more visas to issue to Indians!" and keep a straight face. Training is a normal part of every industry.


>unemployed by choice

>they are unwilling to move to places where the jobs are.

How exactly would an unemployed person move? security deposit/down payment, moving costs, etc all cost real money, and without an income, I'm not sure how you would expect someone to move across the country.

Humans are on average risk averse - and certainly no one would advise someone to move out to california on their credit card, in hopes of immediately finding a well paying job.

Its not like someone who has been unemployed for two years is so attractive that theyd be getting offers with relocation included thrown at them.


How exactly would an unemployed person move? security deposit/down payment, moving costs, etc all cost real money, and without an income, I'm not sure how you would expect someone to move across the country.

Strangely, illegal Mexicans seem to have solved this problem. In fact, they solved it so well that we plan to build a wall to keep them out.

This is why I say we need to import a better working class. Our own leisure class seems completely incapable of doing anything!


Have you ever met an illegal immigrant? been to their home? asked them about their experience coming to the US?

Its interesting to see you assume so much about illegal immigrants, when you clearly dont have even a foundational understanding of their lives here or in mexico.


Do you have a substantive argument, or merely the vague supposition that somewhere out there there must be some personal anecdote that invalidates what I said?

Could you clarify what "assume so much" refers to? I'm pretty sure that the only assumption I made is that most illegal immigrants are not non-workers collecting benefits.


Do you have a substantive argument, or is assuming that all illegal immigrants come here with 0 cash your argument?


It's possible illegal immigrants saved money - the question then arises why the Americans didn't.


sure, we can complete the circle i guess.

because they are unemployed.


The "Shortage of Engineers" myth that just won't die. If you're going to claim there's a shortage of a good, you need to mention the price you're willing to pay. I want a new BMW for $10K, but can't find one. Therefore there's a shortage of BMWs.


> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years.

These two statements are not linked. One can agree that without foreign talent, SV would not have grown to what it is. On the flip side, this doesn't mean their is a shortage of talent.

Simply that their is a shortage of talent that is willing to sell that talent for lower wages and less perks. I can't see how raising the minimum salary will hurt.

If you are correct, and the value of this talent is amazing enough, even $130,000 is a paltry sum considering what they should be capable of doing. If raising the minimum salary on all of H1-B visas to $130,000 is too much, one could easily make the assertion that the talent is simply not there.

In the end, if there is a talent shortage, salaries should be rising, and they aren't.

> Younger people are more willing to move to another country.

And they are willing to work for less, too.


> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years

I don't think you can prove this point, because you're arguing a counterfactual without proving the base claim that foreign talent was in fact necessary or that similar development wouldn't have otherwise happened.

You're also confusing what is meant be a labour shortage, which isn't about the absolute number of qualified candidates per se, but the number available at a given price. That is to say that there may be a sufficient pool of workers, but they demand a higher wage than firms would like to pay. As a result firms choose H-1Bs to suppress wages.


I've been at a startup where a few key hires (one an h1B) led to 140 jobs.

And H1B holders can work anywhere. Why do we want them to work overseas for our competitors?


> Why do we want them to work overseas for our competitors?

We don't necessarily. As with many aspects of economic policy, it's a bit of a balancing act. You need enough immigration to satisfy demand for talent, but not so much that your drive down wages, and diminish taxable income while also upsetting constituents. You also don't want visa policies that encourage skilled workers to come, stay long enough to learn how to copy American businesses, and leave (sort of IP/business process remittance).

Generally I'm pro skilled immigration but H-1B as implemented is too easy to use for wage suppression vis-a-vis contracting through outsourcing consultancies like TCS or Infosys.


>> There is no way SV would have grown to what it is now without foreign talent. So the shortage has been real for the last 30+ years.

I think the key thing is that there is a shortage of talent at a price they are willing to pay.


> I think the key thing is that there is a shortage of talent at a price they are willing to pay.

Exactly. I know several SV companies that refuse to pay software engineers over 80-100k, and they complain about not being able to hire.


The endless talent shortage is a farce. Every tech company I've worked at rejects well over 90% of their applicants and has an interview process that would be considered insane in almost any other field.

I would say the opposite is true based solely on hiring practices. Look at Google for example, who hire around 1/5000 people that apply.

The shortage is artificially maintained because it works in companies favor. It makes engineers more willing to work for low salaries since they have to work so hard to get an offer, and makes it possible for them to import "talent" which is 95% of the time an excuse to import cheap foreign labor.

Look at what these H1B's are mostly used for. Yeah sometimes it's specialized jobs but usually just generic "developer" or "consultant". Is it really true that you need to hire an H1B because you can't find a "developer"?. The visa process is meant to be used for skills you can't find in the US, and with this in mind it's clearly failed its purpose


Every tech company I've worked at rejects well over 90% of their applicants and has an interview process that would be considered insane in almost any other field.

Joel Spolsky explains why this does not imply what you think it implies.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070501/column-guest.html

tl;dr; Imagine 1 low quality developer who applies to 9 places and gets rejected. There's also 1 high quality developer who applies to 1 place and gets accepted. Look, 90% of applications have been rejected!


Total BS. I have seen this first hand both as a hiring manager and as an applicant. I have been rejected from jobs based on totally insane interview questions that have nothing to do with the job. In one case I interviewed at 2 competitors. One gave me nothing but trick whiteboard questions, the other emphasized my experience and gave me a real world interview. I was rejected by the whiteboard company and hired by the competitor. My first day on the job I sat down and commited code that ended up in production the very next day and did that for many years afterwords.

I have also hired people that had to pass insane interviews due to the company culture and watched them fail at being a developer. I know many good devs that cannot pass these interviews that would run circles around these super whiteboard problem solvers.


There's a lot wrong with that article, you're right. Another way the article is BS is that Joel assumes that it is only possible to get good candidates by being the employee's first employer, since "they already have jobs. Stimulating jobs. Jobs where their employers pay them lots of money and do whatever it takes to keep them happy." It's impossible! Here's a pro-tip for all you hopeless employers trying to hire these inscrutable "top engineers", who are unfairly entrenched in their existing jobs. Ready to be blown away? Write it down, who knows when this post will go away!

Offer them a stimulating job, and pay them lots of money, more stimulating than their current employer, and more money than their current employer.

There you go, glad I could help.

If there is this "floating population of applicants in your industry that apply for nearly every opening posted online" as Joel puts it, then I'll offer that the software job market is also flooded with a floating population of "dog jobs" that are uninteresting, low pay, crappy company/work conditions, etc. that never get filled without paid recruiters spamming thousands of people daily. When you search job boards, nearly 100% of the jobs are such. When you get another LinkedIn message, it's more than likely a dog job. Don't get me wrong, I like hearing from recruiters, and I appreciate the opportunity of getting a heads up about the kinds of jobs that are out there, but the pickins of GOOD JOBS, jobs that I would leave my employer for, are pretty slim.

Improve job quality and you'll improve your candidate pool. Pay bananas, get monkeys.


This exactly.

Right now I would love to be working on amazing challenging stuff for these companies. Instead I have to decide if i want to go gungho studying my ass off for whiteboard interviews...and if I am insanely lucky I will get offered a salary already in line with my current one at a company that doesn't have billions in the bank...like all these SV companies that are so convinced there is some shortage.


You bring up another reason why 90% of applications might be rejected: false negatives.

Consider a hiring filter which rejects 90% of good applicants and 99% of bad applicants. In such a world, consider a population of 10 good applicants. These 10 applicants will go on 100 interviews, be rejected on 90 of them and each will find a job. So in this world where every applicant finds a job, you still get 9/10 applications being rejected.

This seems to agree with your (anecdotal, and likely biased [1]) experience.

[1] "I got rejected after an interview, therefore hiring is broken" is a perennial topic on HN.


I've come to accept that I'm no good at whiteboard interviews. The only way I can get hired nowadays is either via a personal referral and/or an employer so desperate (or serious enough about hiring someone in a reasonable time-frame) that they short-circuit their interview process and skip the whole whiteboard hazing process.

For my current job, I had a total of 2 phone conversations (first with a recruiter, second with the hiring manager) over the course of a week when they all of a sudden dropped an offer on me. I was a bit surprised by it -- "What? An offer already? Uh, I was expecting some sort of interview first?"

I actually nearly walked away at that point, but was... talked into accepting after a little back-and-forth on the salary.

But anyway, I just ignore cold-call/emails from recruiters anymore, because I know it will just end in wasted time (like getting rejected after 4 rounds of hazing and a weekend-stealing homework project) and stress/frustration I don't need. Most companies are obviously being overwhelmed with large numbers of high quality applicants for every open position ;)


I'd love to have an interview where I got to show off what I know with some whiteboard problems. Every interview I've ever had usually goes like "So tell us about the kind of projects you've done in school or on your own." I don't have any huge personal projects, just a million little ones and for the most part, my school projects have been very uninteresting and not 100% towards the interests I have. I end up sounding pretty dull and lazy. If I was given some whiteboard problems, I would at least be able to show off what I know rather than just talking about it. In interviews, I'm always afraid of sounding like I'm bullshitting something when I'm not an expert in something but know enough to carry a conversation about the subject. The job I got hired for, the skills they were looking for were things I've done as a hobby in my spare time. I was surprised they offered me the job since I figured there had to be a bunch of masters grads out there much more qualified than me. Now I sit here and feel like I'm maybe a bit too underqualified for the job. It's going to take a bit of time just getting up to the knowledge level that I think they were expecting me to have. If I had some whiteboard-style questions during the interview, maybe I would have gotten weeded out. Maybe they really are looking for someone of my experience. I'm really not 100% sure but I'm not about to tip my hand and be branded as a bullshitter. I really do like the job and the projects they already have me working on are way cooler than I'd ever imagine. But I wish I was a bit more prepared for the level of knowledge required before coming in here.


apply for amazon, you'll have fun.


I think this is probably close to being the case. The Google interview is an "any given Sunday" thing, with a huge amount of luck involved as to choice of interviewer and interview questions. I suspect that a person who got an offer, if forced to re-interview, would fail 9/10 times.


Seems like it's because the industry has accepted that there's a fixed number of good applicants, and so employers are engaged in a zero-sum game to dig them out, overlooking the notion that average programmers can become better with guidance.

This seems to agree with your (anecdotal, and likely biased [1]) experience.

Spolsky's observations are no less anecdotal and no more data-driven than the previous poster's experiences.


This is exactly what happens. The hiring bar is so arbitrarily high that companies can say there's a shortage when they reject 5-10 good applicants for every position.

In a true labor shortage this would be completely unsustainable. Trying to justify rejecting 90% of your good applicants to avoid "false negatives" and extending that logic to say that there's a shortage... Obviously retarded if you think about it.


Hardly. If the cost of 10 interviews exceeds the cost of 1 bad hire, then my 90/99 filter is probably worth it.

If you think it's retarded, try and work out the arithmetic yourself.


Does that include the accounting for recruiter salaries, the time taken away from employees to conduct interviews, etc.? You'd think that CA being an at-will state would encourage more performance-related terminations. Fail early, fail fast- with your talent pool.


Inc.com is a really bad source for such information... As if they would be expected to be neutral in such a situation.

If this was true you would see it across professions and at every level of position, yet it's something fairly unique to software development.


Indeed, thanks to Spolsky & co getting a scripting job entails a three ring circus of burdens and hazing to get an offer. They are looking for any excuse to not hire you rather than trying to fill a position.


Joel Spolsky makes important points in the article. Disregarding them because you don't like the web site that they're posted on is fallacious reasoning.


Inc is a publication targeted towards business owners. Nothing about the site is meant to be neutral. It's like learning about Democrats from a Republican website.

I wouldn't disregard it so quickly if the source was more neutral.


And that's how echo chambers of thought develop. Only listen to the sources of information that you wish to and disregard others without evaluating what they are providing.

Sorry, but Spolsky is normally extremely insightful and if you read the article, he makes many excellent points that are worth considering no matter which angle you're approaching the problem from.


If inc.com is your problem, Joel makes the same argument on his blog here: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2005/01/27/news-58/


You aren't asking Inc for a recommendation, if you did their bias would be an issue. Thinking clearly means focusing on facts of the argument, not Joel's job or the site's business.


I can attest that this is true for mechanical/automotive industry.


If there's not a shortage of skilled engineers, then why is Google paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars a year? While it's true that the industry has a bit of myopia and tends to focus on a specific subset of engineers as "skilled," there is absolutely a huge shortage of them and massive competition to hire them.


Google is one of the few companies hiring H1B's for their true purpose. If you look at where most of these visas are going it's clear that a large majority are low quality jobs.

It's a disservice to the brilliant visa holders I know as well as US citizens. it's extremely hard for them to get a job at a good company because so many of the visas are getting soaked up by those abusing the system.

If there was a huge engineer shortage you would see companies step in to provide developer training problems. This is clearly not happening.


I'm not saying the H1B system isn't abused. It absolutely is, and should be reformed.

What I'm disputing is this notion that there's no shortage of qualified developers. There absolutely is—that's why you see substantial salary growth for senior engineers.

What exactly do you think bootcamps are? They're outsourced developer training programs whose entire business model depends on the high tech salaries.


What? That is happening.


Tech companies also reject applicants because they are "software engineers wannabe" that are just a bunch of phonies coveting the high salaries.

Tying up visas effects only to wage diminution is just a big mistake. But I can't wait to witness the effect of being a lot more selective on visas. We'll see!


Visas are currently the "easy way out" to get decent developers for cheap. The problem, that's not what they were designed for. Their purpose is to find specialized skills that cannot be sourced otherwise.

The most immediate effects of fixing the visa system will be employers suddenly offering "on the job training" to fill these lowly skilled jobs. It's hard to see this as anything but a net positive for US workers


I've run interviews for a consulting company. Most all of the best applications were from H1B holders.


Sorry to say this but you've probably got pretty strong selection bias.

At least from my experience (I used to be a consultant) consulting jobs mostly attract people that can't get a job elsewhere. They generally include low pay, long hours, and a lot of client interaction.

It's no surprise to me that the nation's biggest software consultancies are largely considered the worst places to work as a software developer.

H1B's know to apply at these jobs because they have a much better chance of getting them. They have a better chance of getting them because these same companies are generally the ones abusing the system to hire software developers below market rates.


Tech companies have a strict interview process because a mediocre engineer is actively harmful.

At most companies, the hiring manager and interviewers, who are predominantly other engineers, get to decide whether or not to hire a candidate. There simply isn't a mechanism for upper management to manipulate the process in the way you suggest.


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