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U.S. Changes Visa Process for High-Skilled Workers (wsj.com)
469 points by godelmachine 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 613 comments



I've worked with a few H1-B holders in Silicon Valley and they're awesome.

A great improvement would be to allow H1B holders to change jobs easily (maybe after a year). It's too easy for them to get stuck in not great situations. It would be great for everyone if they could move to better fitting jobs, especially for startups who have trouble running H1-B programs.

If you are, like me, a software engineer, you should cheer every immigrant. They aren't competitors, they are complements and create more jobs. Economics is complicated and sometimes counterintuitive, but just because "immigrants lower wages" is "common knowledge" doesn't make it true. [1]

To prime your intuition a bit, consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages.

And if you are in SV consider that more than half of public tech companies were created by 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. 1st generation founders include Sergey Brin, Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Stewart Butterfield, Sebastion Thrun, and Patrick and John Collison. [2]

[1] https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/page1-econ/2014...

[2] https://www.recode.net/2018/5/30/17385226/kleiner-perkins-ma...


>just because "immigrants lower wages" is "common knowledge" doesn't make it true. [1]

From your own cite:

>Immigrant workers can either be substitutes for native-born workers or complements to them. When immigrant workers are substitutes for native-born workers, they compete for similar jobs. Using a simple supply and demand model, an influx of substitutable workers constitutes an increase in the supply of labor, causing wages to fall for workers with similar skills. Because many immigrants are low-skilled workers, economic studies have found that an influx of immigrants depresses wages for low-skilled native-born workers in the short run.6 And, because many immigrants are also high-skilled, a similar substitution effect occurs for some high-skilled workers.

It goes on to talk about complementary workers:

>. For example, consider that immigrant workers account for 22 percent of the construction workforce. They tend to pursue jobs in the construction industry that require less training and education but are areas where the industry has its largest labor shortages—such as painters, drywall installers, and construction laborers.7 This supply of immigrant labor has decreased the cost and presumably increased the number of homes produced and sold over time. The increase in housing construction has increased the demand for higher-skilled construction workers such as contractors, electricians, and plumbers

While that's a nice thought, it isn't comforting to those that aren't contractors, electricians, or plumbers. They need those low skill positions in order to gain the experience to move into higher skilled ones. The hardest job for a programmer to get is their first one. Especially those that don't come from a traditional CS background. This is really where the H1B visa hurts American workers. Companies would much rather go for an immigrant on an H1B visa than train Americans to do the work.


At my organization we don't have any junior devs, we're all leads and they bring in H1B contractors that are less than or equal to junior devs in EXP but far cheaper, we use them for a bit until we complain loud enough, and then management ends their contract.

I like the contractors as people but not as coworkers. It's always mixed feelings when they go, part relief and part sorrow.

Occasionally we do get a good one and we beg for them to hire them but our Talent Strategies department (i.e. HR eyeroll) won't sponsor them.


That's the section where they acknowledge that, yes, people lose jobs to immigrants. They go on to say that actually more people gain jobs at higher wages because of immigrants.

There's a section on high tech jobs to read too, take a look.

Most people believe that immigrants generally lower wages and take jobs. They almost never do. Economists who have done hundreds of studies on different wage markets have found that immigrants create more jobs and raise wages in most cases.

Also in the paper? "... how does immigration affect the average American?...annual economic gains to the native-born population to be between 0.1 and 0.3 percent of gross domestic product". This is an astonishingly large benefit. Some estimate that switching completely to self driving cars would add .2% to gdp a year. It's that big a gain. Almost no other policy we can think of has this great an effect. Our current gdp growth is at 2%.

It's not unusual to be wrong about this, there aren't more than 5 people at any major newspaper who understand that immigrants create jobs. 95% of news stories you have ever read get this wrong.

Add to that the media always going for max outrage, and you get stories about workers being replaced. Never stories about the workers that immigrants added.

Btw, H1-B workers are not magic, an American worker is creating complementary jobs too. This is why cities have such high wages, the high density of complementary labor.

And hey, when have you ever known software to not create the need for more software :0)


>Also in the paper? "... how does immigration affect the average American?...annual economic gains to the native-born population to be between 0.1 and 0.3 percent of gross domestic product". This is an astonishingly large benefit.

That is $50-150 per year for a household with a median income. It's not an astonishingly large benefit.

And the GDP is entirely the wrong thing to look at. In the last two decades the U.S. has roughly doubled its GDP while the median household income hasn't increased at all. Nobody really doubts that bringing in immigrants skilled or otherwise will make the economy larger. It's more about who benefits. If you're the guy that runs the business using all of this immigrant labor you do great. If you're the guy competing with immigrants for jobs you don't do great.

>That's the section where they acknowledge that, yes, people lose jobs to immigrants. They go on to say that actually more people gain jobs at higher wages because of immigrants.

>There's a section on high tech jobs to read too, take a look.

All I see is a quote from Bill Gates and misleading statistics. Nothing that indicates that more Americans work in high tech fields at higher wages due to immigrants.

>And hey, when have you ever known software to not create the need for more software :0)

Which you hire more Indians to write...


GDP per capita is $59,531. So .1-.3% of that is $60-179. For every man, woman, and child in the United States. $19-58 billion per year. This is value created, money from thin air, you don't have to tax anyone to give $120 to everyone in the United States every single year.

If you know something else that good, you should let us all know. Economists and policy makers scrounge around for stuff that's not a tenth as good as that. 333-1000 things this size make up every single dollar anyone in the United States has ever had. That's all the light bulbs, car makers, services and food you've ever seen.

GDP is the perfect thing to look at, it's our national income.


It averages to $X of value per head, sure. Does the median head actually capture value worth anything close to $X?


The U.S. has a funny policy of not redistributing the gains of society.

Why not instigate a universal basic income of say 5% of GDP, or $3k a year.

That gives everyone an incentive to have GDP increase, rather than just the wealthiest.


That's all well and good if you're the physical manifest of your country. Most people tend to think about whether it's good for themselves, though. Does an increased GDP "trickle down" to the worker?


GDP measures paid activity but not wellbeing, i.e. "value".


Do you have a source on these studies you are saying talk about how immigration increases wages.

It's the general understanding that increase imigration would lower wages for those towards the bottom of the pay band for any given profession. It may result in increased pay for those at the top of the industry should increased software development induce demand for more software development, but that's not something we know to be the case over the next 40 years.

In many different marketplaces, increasing supply reduces it's cost even should there be an exact increase in demand for the given need. I.e. software development leads to there being an increased demand for more software development.


>Economists who have done hundreds of studies on different wage markets have found that immigrants create more jobs and raise wages in most cases.

Except of course the low skilled jobs that the immigrants are now doing. Those jobs see decreased wages. Seriously why do you think companies are hiring them if there were no economic gains and in the end they have to pay more to workers? They might not take jobs overall but claiming they increase wages even in the sectors that they are working in? Now that is what I call delusional.


> Seriously why do you think companies are hiring them if there were no economic gains and in the end they have to pay more to workers?

THIS!


Before anyone says it, if construction costs increased because laborers were paid more, it would not make housing more expensive. It would make land less expensive. This would be good for everyone except the arisotocrat.


And if you're in IT consulting like me instead of a software engineer, you absolutely should not cheer every immigrant. Many people wrongly assume that most H1B visas go to truly high-skilled individuals working at large tech companies. This is not the case. Take a look at the numbers in [1]. The top 5 companies bringing H1B workers are doing so specifically to outsource IT functions at lower cost than US workers. These H1B workers are absolutely taking away jobs and higher salaries from Americans who would like to do this work if it paid more.

What we need is to revamp the H1B system to be bid-based rather than lottery-based so it can actually fulfill its intent of bringing in workers that are truly needed rather than workers that are convenient.

[1] http://fortune.com/2017/08/03/companies-h1b-visa-holders/


My personal experience working with visa workers at multiple organizations is that many organizations do indeed use them as de-facto indentured servants. One visa worker got paid only once every 6 months. He tolerated it because complaining could get him sent back home. (It did cover his full pay, though.)

The claim H1B's are being used to "relieve labor shortages" is mostly untrue.

I disagree with a good many policies of the current administration, but they got this mostly right. I have to give them kudos.


Note that Bernie Sanders has a similar position on this issue.


The startups I've worked for, co created with coworkers who had H1-B visas (and green cards) created a lot of IT consulting gigs. We might even have hired you. This is as we went from 40 to 400 employees. Those H1-B visa holders created gigs for you to work. Even the consulting gigs you are competing for and losing are creating more consulting gigs later on. You are counting those right?

It's not simple, your intuition gained from media stories is not correct. You should instead read what economists say, they usually find that native wages and jobs are increased by immigrants.

Just think about how many dumb stories the media writes about stuff you actually do understand. Like - is your usual biggest project risk really hacking? Nope, it's the 50% chance a software project won't succeed at all.


Yes, I am counting those. And yes, I am looking at real data instead of media puff pieces. For example, [1]. It's important to consider 1) relative numbers (how many market rate positions are being created as a result of H1B vs. number of depressed wage positions taken away by them), and 2) The total net result on US workers. If 1,000 new jobs are created, but 10,000 others that Americans want to work now pay 15% less than they should, is it really a net positive?

Also as a rebuttal to your point, the type of economist findings you are referring to are almost always explicitly for complementary labor rather than substitute labor. In the case of H1B abuse, it tends to be the latter rather than the former. Additionally, abuse of the H1B program leads to add-on effects in the labor market that keep salaries low and discourage entry of new American workers - see for example [2].

I want to reiterate that I support the intent of the H1B program and startups using H1B workers are generally doing exactly the right thing. The problem is that the program has been hijacked by corporate interests looking to cut costs and thus it needs to be significantly revised.

[1] https://qz.com/india/1041506/new-data-on-h-1b-visas-show-how...

[2] https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/...


Nope, you've linked to a media piece and a law journal article.

The economists did all the math, they actually thought of your 1) and 2) and other things besides. (Both the middle and high wage H1-B immigrants helped.)

They usually (not every single time) find that immigrants benefit native workers, that's low, medium, and high skill immigrants. They both increase the number of jobs AND the average wage.

The "abuse" of the H1-B program you mention is also helping even though you are correct that it is against the intent of the program. You almost certainly owe several of your gigs to H1-B immigrants, time when you would have otherwise been on the beach or working at a lower wage.

I know this goes against almost everything you've ever heard. It's counterintuitive. Like treating cancer with radiation, using a back fire to stop a wildfire, or that adding more software devs to a late project will make it later.

You want to look for something like "this poll of economists says that more immigration is bad for the US". "This poll of economics nobel prize winners say that while high skill immigration is good, medium skill immigration is bad". "This survey article of economics immigration articles finds that 70% of papers agree: middle skill immigration lowers wages". You will not find much.

For example these polls of economists say that high skill immigration is super good, but low skill immigration is only pretty good.

http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/high-skilled-immigrants

http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/low-skilled-immigrants

As patriotic American who cares for their fellow citizens and also out of self interest you should say "we should really crank up the H1-B program and let a lot more skilled immigrants in".


> The top 5 companies bringing H1B workers are doing so specifically to outsource IT functions at lower cost

And this is the part I don't quite understand. According to the rules, this shouldn't be possible.

So either (a) the rules are broken, and need to be fixed or (b) the rules are not being enforced.

And since we have the numbers, and the companies, it shouldn't be that hard to see how they are getting past either the regulations or the intent of the regulations or both.

As a former H1B visa holder who definitely did not lower wages (-g-) and whose employers were, AFAICT, meticulous about following the rules, it annoys me to no end that all H1B visa holders are tarred with the brush of the ones violating the rules.


Here's how it works. A company like Cognizant gets as many H1Bs as it can via an army of applicants and subsidiaries in India to game the lottery system. Meanwhile, companies in the US that want to pay less for IT functions create job descriptions that are tailored specifically to H1B applicants (if you've ever wondered why there are mandatory requirements for a very specific set of systems experience and education, this is often why), then post those jobs only where they are unlikely to be found and tell American applicants who do manage to find them that the position only pays [20% below real market rate]. Now you've got a US company that can legally say they just can't find any qualified domestic applicants, an H1B-focused staffing company that has tons of people it can bring in and rotate through regularly, and wages that are depressed. Net result: IT departments at large companies that are 40%+ staffed by H1B contractors.

I've seen this happen repeatedly at clients you've definitely heard of and it creates a situation where there are plenty of Americans who would work these jobs, but the salary/benefits being offered just aren't competitive.


i'm sorry but this comment reads like a puff piece. the red flag for me was when you simultaneously claimed that economics is complicated and then almost immediately... make an economic claim?

look, i get that you want to signal positive sentiment towards immigrants. that's great. but it's not at all clear what you're saying is true - one would need to factor in inflation, minimum wage growth, purchasing power, and things of that nature.

there's also the other (darker?) side of the coin, which indicates that in the US, there isn't nearly enough opportunity for US citizens to bridge the gap between where they are and to get prepared for these jobs. that's a black eye on our education system mostly, but it should be emphasized every time something like this is under discussion - given the incredible demand for these roles and the incredible amount of people not in the labor force who actually want a job, we really, really ought to be focusing on education here so as to fill these roles with US citizens.


Except it's not true that the US education system isn't producing enough educated prospective software engineers, the deficiency is entirely people at the higher levels.

The predicted job growth by the BLS over the next ten years is very close if not equal to the number of people getting bachelor's degree in computer science. This doesn't include boot camp graduates or people who are returning to get a master's, nor does it count the many people in related fields who go on to become software developers. While certainly some of these graduates are immigrants themselves, it's rather unlikely that the 10s of thousands of H1Bs that come in every year are needed for anything but to reduce labor costs (although it's known that reducing labor costs does make American industry more competitive at large).


> Except it's not true that the US education system isn't producing enough educated prospective software engineers.

Says who? The same people pushing for H1B?

We all know how this works. They tailor a job description that only could be met by a H1B. Any native interviewed is either slotted not under qualified or over qualified.

Even if you still want to argue that the solution is not more H1B, its less H1B. You force the companies to dump money into the local schooling systems to ensure they are producing the workers they need.

Allowing them to game the system and hire H1B means they have no incentive to ensure our school systems are producing the workers they will need.


My claim is "economics is complicated", so we should listen to economists. Then I put in a link to what some economists say to give the flavor.

You can go adventuring for yourself. Look for papers from the federal reserve, university economics blogs, and academic journals. You can just read the abstracts. You will find a very clear consensus.

I am also explicitly saying that the media and even high quality media like the Nytimes will leave you with very bad intuition about the effects of immigration.


Dude, just … no.

It's not about signaling or positive sentiments. All human beings are equal. Being born in one place doesn't make you special or entitles you to a job.

US citizen or whatever-country citizen, all that matters is what you can do. Meritocracy, you know.

If someone else can do the job better than you or me, they should be hired. Being born in the US or gender or anything else you can think about shouldn't play a role. Only raw performance should matter, because anything else is discriminatory.

Just saying, because that's how I see the world, and I hope more people will keep seeing the world that way instead of thinking they're special and worth some unique privilege because of circumstance of their birth.


By way of a thought experiment: If all human beings are equal, is this a necessary and sufficient condition to let a homeless person stay with you for a night? Assuming this is an option for a relative or friend. Why not willingly give up your job now? Surely someone can lay claim to your job on some merit basis. If you have children, do you distribute your time and affection in proportion to merit?

I don't see why I should give up my hard won comfort -- won collectively by my ancestors, neighbors, compatriots, myself -- to strangers. It's natural to accord special status to yourself, then to some close kin, ..., then to fellow citizens, then to the rest of humanity.


> I don't see why I should give up my hard won comfort -- won collectively by my ancestors, neighbors, compatriots, myself -- to strangers. It's natural to accord special status to yourself, then to some close kin, ..., then to fellow citizens, then to the rest of humanity.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague once. Basically he was making the argument that people work hard to pass on something to their kids, and we shouldn't discourage that. Also that generations of people were working for their own nearest, why should that be wrecked in favour of a new regime?

There probably is something natural about helping your closest first. But nature is not in itself a reason for thinking something is right.

The problem for me is we are talking about excluding people from voluntary agreements. If some guy from a foreign country comes to my country and manages to agree a deal with some employer, why on earth do I have any right to stop that?

Any consequences of that agreement on my wellbeing are indirect. The arguments always go via the market, speaking to the effect of changing supply and demand. It's like when the "wrong kind of people" move into a neighbourhood, lowering house prices. What reasonable complaint does one have, other than if those people in themselves do something unreasonable like littering?

There's lots of things people can do voluntarily that might hurt me indirectly. Suppose everyone decided to speak Esperanto instead of the local language. Do I have a right to stop them? No. Would it have an enormous cost to me? Yes. Would it be convenient for me to use the law to force them? Sure.

So while I can understand that people are worried about immigration, I've yet to hear a reasonable argument to restrict it.


Here the cult of HN shows its true face ... As JWZ says :-

A DDOS made of finance obsessed Man-children and brogrammers

https://www.jwz.org/blog/2017/02/an-annotated-digest-of-the-...


It's sad.

I try to keep to technical issues, but some of the things I read are just not acceptable.

We all have different opinion, and I respect that, but when some people think they deserve some special privileges, I disagree.


  Only raw performance should matter, because anything else is discriminatory.
There go the disabled, English learners, and all others with an initial disadvantage. Go Team Darwin!


If they genuinely have a lower performance, they will sell their services at a price matching their performance and have no problem finding clients.

However, I dispute that premise. You are jumping to conclusions. The "disabled and English learners" I have met offer tremendous value, in different axes.

Someone who is blind is used to processing audio at several time the speed a non blind person can. So if I need someone to summarize and extra data from audio, I want someone who's blind. Because they will be more efficient than you or I.

I don't know about you, but I assume you are not blind. If you want to sell me your services, I'll pay you a fraction of what I'll pay a blind contractor because they will be more efficient than you.

Someone for which English is not their first language often uses a lower number of words, and makes simpler sentences. This is a godsent for technical documentation.

I fear you inner bias make you consider that as "intial disadvantage". It is extremely short sighted.

Feel free to call me prejudiced when I prefer blind and ESL hires.


    > If someone else can do the job better than you or me, they should be hired...
OK, but that's not what is happening.

You're ignoring the fact that this is more about cheap labor than about some unreachable meritocratic ideal of finding "the best person" for the job.

The end game of this will be that these "high-skill" jobs will go the way of manufacturing, and eventually the USA will end up with huge swathes of the population unable to compete in the global economy, poorer, less educated and with a diminishing social safety net.


> Being born in one place doesn't make you special or entitles you to a job.

Um, in some continues it is. But then I have to ask why have countries at all if being born in a country gains you nothing?

While I see your point I can't help to have a hard time with it. Mostly because you fail to see how detrimental to the country it is when its citizens can't get jobs because they are competing with the res of the world, who don't follow the same rules.

We have countries for a reason. And if the vast majority of people in a country feel they should not have to compete on a world platform for a local job then that seems fair to me.

Lets also talk about numbers. Given there is ~400 million in the US, And ~7 billion people in the rest of the world. It is almost statistically given that we could replace every American citizen worker with a better skilled worker with a non-citizen worker. So I ask again, is that what we want to do? What will that mean for the notion of the US as a country? Why have a country at all?

Why have a country at all? Well right now because other countries will continue to be countries and want to be countries, and they don't all play by the same rules. It might be different if we all played by the same rules but right now it seems like the US is being gamed by everybody else.

But anyways, it matters what country you are born in, and that does grant you some rights that others in other countries were born in don't have. Otherwise we would not even be having this discussion.


You assume I may like countries. I'm not against the concept of people freely associating around political systems they like.

However, I do not like the concept of imaginal lines drawn on a map to give advantage to some people who had a lucky birth.

It is no better than a caste system or nobility in Europe.

> Otherwise we would not even be having this discussion.

I'm sad we have this discussion.


>Only raw performance should matter, because anything else is discriminatory.

So you're in favor of removing the diversity visa lottery then?


Firstly, political systems must also compete. Marxism competes with free-market democracies, and in order for that competition to occur, movement must be restrained. Failing political systems explode with refugees that bring unworkable mindsets with them.

Secondly, all people are equal before the law, which is an invention of the U.S. constitution. All people are certainly not equal. This is codified in religion in various forms ("As you did unto the least of these, you did unto me," karma/samsara, kafir, etc.). It is self-evident that equality is not reflected in wealth, social standing, influence, and power. It is also patently obvious that biology presents impediments to equality. You should not confuse a U.S. legal construct of equality with a generalization of equality.


A great improvement would be to give them citizenship if they want it.

The economic impact of immigrants is not under debate, however your examples are poor choices as I don't think any of those people came to the US on an H1B visa. If anything it's an argument against H1B.


Yep, totally where I was going with that. One H1-B guy I worked with did in fact become a founder of a small successful firm, but that was after he got a green card.

I think we've lost out on a few billion dollar startups and awesome inventions by locking people to the H1-B job they got hired for.


>>A great improvement would be to give them citizenship if they want it.

All H1B holders are more than eager to become citizens and currently there is already a pathway defined but the system is a nightmare.

Especially countries like India which are enormously backlogged.


It’s like saying some retaurants are started by immigrants so don’t complain that every kitchen is staffed by undocumented workers


H1B's are immigrant visas, they terminate in greencards after one renewal. The only problem is that a few countries have long lines (India, China, Philippines) on how many greencards can be granted this way per year. That should be done away with.


> H1B's are immigrant visas

No, H-1B visas are explicitly nonimmigrant visas for temporary workers. [1]

> They terminate in greencards after one renewal

No, they don't. You can apply for a GC, but there's nothing automatic about the process, and the GC is not guaranteed to be approved either.

[1] https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-worker...



The term Immigrant Visa in US immigration specifically refers to a visa that would confer permanent residency (i.e. green card) upon entry to the US. H-1B is definitely not one. It is a non-immigrant visa. Immigration intent, e.g. “dual intent” that you are referring to is distinct from the fact that H-1B is a non-immigrant visa. It simply refers to whether you are eligible for the non-immigrant visa if you have a predisposed intent to immigrate permanently in the future. For example, if you are applying for a non-immigrant visa with non-immigrant intent like F-1, you are asserting that you do not intend to permanently immigrate at the time of your application. Dual intent visas do not have such restriction, thus you can apply for a green card without jeopardizing your eligibility for a dual-intent non-immigrant visa, but that does not mean the non-immigrant visa comes with the privilege or path of immigration in and of itself or confers any such benefit.


H1-B are non-immigrant visas in the sense they are temporary. However, they are dual-intent which means you can pursue permanent residency while in H1-B status.


There is nothing in the H1B that entitles you to a green card. You can only renew the H1B once, so after that you need to either somehow get a green card or leave the U.S.


Although the previous comment is very incorrect, this information is also not correct.

The greencard process is a multi step, often many year process. If you are from a country with per country limits you can be approved for a green card, which will allow your H1B to be renewed indefinitely, but you still have the alien conditions including needing to maintain the same/similar employment.


They don't "terminate" in GC but rest of your comment is correct.


They terminate in a GC or you go home. Only one renewal, not like the work visa I had in China that could be renewed indefinitely with no path to permanent residency.


This is false. Once you're past a certain point in the GC process, you will renew your status each year.


But at that point you are approved for a GC and are just waiting for the country quota.


and if you are born in India or China, you wont get a GC until you are in your 80's


Can still fail the i485 interview


I don't think any of those people came to the US on an H1B visa

H1-B is one of the main ways people get a green card and citizenship since you can have immigrant intent on H1-B, something you can't on a lot of other visas.


H-1B visas fall under the doctrine of dual intent, though, so isn't that already the case? Having the H-1B does not preclude someone from seeking out a green card.

Or am I misunderstanding your first statement?


You are. If they are skilled, lawful and desire to become citizens they should be given a green card after 1 year on the spot.


I’d say we reciprocate what their gov would do for our workers. Their gov makes easy for Americans, we make it easy for them. They make it hard on Americans trying to work in their country, we make it hard on them.

Fair is fair.


See your argument is short sighted, as these people provide economic benefit, it’s in your interest to allow as many as you can in while the other countries aren’t interested in taking your best and brightest. It’s why Canada’s tech sector stands to gain hugely while America squanders its lead. Canada’s letting in anyone smart and technical and the US is telling them no. What were arguing for is being unfair in America’s favor.


I don't know about what's in America's favor. I know for a fact that I would not willingly compete with all software developers in a global marketplace. I'd lose my big4 job in a split second. Canada's tech sector may stand to gain, but I'd lose half my real income if I were to relocate to a sister office across the border. So much for progressive visa policy.


Given the choice, that half the salary would still seem attractive? Isn't it. Now being in same time zone, closer to US SV, native s/w engineers would have to compete fiercely. I wonder, how would folks react over competition with Canadian tech industry.


Countries should do what makes sense for them. Canada is behind, they want to jump start their tech sector. They’re not a challenge to the US, China, Japan or even Russia. So good on them. We have a need for some specialists and we have a need for many low skills laborers. We need a system to evaluate need, address it appropriately and manage the foreign workforce to the advantage of Americans. Panama is free to invite all the high skilled labor if they want and become a tech power too. Let them. I encourage it.


Don’t you want America to stay ahead? I’m getting dizzy from all these moving goalposts.


Canada is just about a tenth of our pop. Worrying about them is like worrying about Japan taking over the world in 1990. It’s not possible due to population realities. Let them succeed a little.


This is the strangest anti-immigration stance I’ve ever heard: don’t let them in so the small countries can win a round or two. I mean, ok, you win this one? Maybe this is what being tired of winning looks like ;)


" ... consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages ..."

I am not sure that is true ... in fact, while I cannot provide a reference or citation, I believe I have seen well-received research and academic studies that suggest this increase in the workforce was a key component of weakening unions and depressing real, inflation adjusted earnings over just the period you cite.

In fact, I think it is Elizabeth Warren's work in a related area (the fragility of two-income households) that has been more recently discussed and overlaps this discussion.

I am genuinely interested to see how the intersection of liberal immigration policies and support of unions and workers' rights is supposed to be implemented. I note with interest that Ralph Nader believes it cannot be done.[1] I also note with interest that corporate interests, which are assumed to be "reactionary" and "conservative" are very supportive of liberal immigration policies.

I personally believe that the US is, and should continue to be a "nation of immigrants" - especially those coming from countries that we broke. Given that first world workers literally rioted in the streets over a very minor increase in fuel taxes[2], I am skeptical that any real reckoning of the costs and trade-offs involved would be acceptable to the US workforce.

[1] http://www.ontheissues.org/celeb/Ralph_Nader_Immigration.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_vests_movement


I must ardently oppose this, it is completely wrong.

"If you are, like me, a software engineer, you should cheer every immigrant. They aren't competitors, they are complements and create more jobs. Economics is complicated and sometimes counterintuitive, but just because "immigrants lower wages" is "common knowledge" doesn't make it true. [1]"

Whether you realize it or not, the absolute position you're taking is exploitative and false. It's the equivalent of asking if one supports a soldier on the battlefield in order to pressure their position on the war i.e."support the troops".

Furthermore, your source doesn't say what you cherry picked out of it. It says immigrants can be complements OR substitutes, and proceeds to lend some supporting data while remaining inconclusive, which is typical of fed publications. Your conclusion is your own.

"To prime your intuition a bit, consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages."

As someone else pointed out, this very simply false.

If you think that immigrants are a net-job +, by all means, do that math, but what the St. Louis FED has done is far from conclusive.


> I've worked with a few H1-B holders in Silicon Valley and they're awesome.

To counter your anecdote, I've worked with countless H1-B's over the years, and while a handful have been awesome most of them are absolutely terrible.


In Silicon Valley? I've observed that the H-1Bs in Silicon Valley are extraordinarily high skill while the Infosys bodyshoppers are out in Des Moines and Cleveland.


I have. Worked at a large networking company that is rampant w/ low-skilled H-1Bs IMO.


Agree 100%. A handful are awesome. Many are doing software for the wrong reasons and most are generating mountains of shit code.


>A handful are awesome. Many are doing software for the wrong reasons and most are generating mountains of shit code.

(I know nothing about this topic but) Wouldn't that also be true of the general US population, and programmers in other countries? and etc...

i.e. Sturgeon's law? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_law


The difference is that software isn't such a unique get out of poverty ticket in rich countries. People in rich countries who are ambitious and no good at development and / or don't care about it can just do something else to earn a good living.


> To prime your intuition a bit, consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages.

That is not at all obvious. How would you respond to Elizabeth Warren's "The Two-Income Trap"?


Thanks for bringing up this point. Anyone who has grown up in the US knows well how far down wages have gone.

My father was an accountant. He could afford a house and raised a family of 5 on his salary at age 40, earning ~60k/yr. I'm an experienced developer. I make $200k/yr. I'm raising a family of 4 on my salary and i'm 40. I cant afford a house. Heck, I cant even afford more than a 2br apt.

To me, it is completely meaningless that i earn 3x+ than my dad, the wages have not kept up with inflation. My 200k/yr doesnt buy me as much as 60k did a generation ago.

How is this "no loss in jobs or lowering of wages". If anything this demonstrates that Increasing supply lowers wages.

Who knew, economics was right all along!


It's not that wages haven't kept up with general inflation, it's that wages have not kept up with asset inflation.

So your 200K/year (accounting for inflation) probably buys roughly the same amount in goods and services as your father, but it can't buy real estate, because that has been inflated in an asset bubble.

These asset bubbles (stocks, real estate) are driven by the fact that owners of capital have been able to depress taxation on capital growth, while increasing (in proportion) taxation on income. They have also been able to use the US national debt to let the Fed maintain their asset bubbles.

Not to mention that in your father's day, inflation ate away at debt, much to the chagrin of the debt holders (ie suppliers of capital). Funnily enough, low inflation has meant that lenders do much better than borrowers.


That was always one of the advantages of a mortgage that was commonly mentioned and promoted. That your monthly payment would be effectively pennies after 20 years. Sustained low inflation meant that never came to pass.

It was also one of the reasons for the Weimar Republic's hyperinflation. They started trying to inflate away some of the Versailles war reparations. Which got out of control, and then some.


Asset inflation is a part of inflation, unfortunately along with education and healthcare, our inflation indicators do an extremely poor job of measuring it.


There are plenty of places in the USA where $200k will get you very far, you just choose not to live there. You have to account for the fact that you're paying for that.


It's probably a lot harder to make $200k in those places.


Just for reference, in 1980 60K is about 174K today.

https://www.officialdata.org/1980-dollars-in-2016?amount=600...

Also, housing is the one thing that has really shot up in price in many places in the US.

Cars, computers, food, clothing and manufactured goods have plummeted in price.

Education and health costs have also increased substantially.


>> They aren't competitors, they are complements and create more jobs.

We've had the H1B program for 25+yrs. We accept 65+20k workers a year. That is 8520+ workers who have entered the country on this program. Lets round down and say 2million workers. These are 2million jobs that didn't go to local graduates, but instead to overseas graduates.

Of those 2 million workers, could anyone cite any significant companies started by the H1b workers which created jobs?* I mean, not a dozen jobs here or there, but serious job creation that would offset the 2 million local workers who were displaced?

There is this myth that H1b workers create more jobs than they take, but where are these jobs? Oh, please dont mention Google or Tesla, as those founders didnt come in on H1bs.


> Of those 2 million workers, could anyone cite any significant companies started by the H1b workers which created jobs?* I mean, not a dozen jobs here or there, but serious job creation that would offset the 2 million local workers who were displaced?

Jyoti Bansal: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyoti_Bansal

Dheeraj Pandey: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dpandey/

And many others like them. Go to the website of any of the top VCs in the Valley. On their list of partners, you will find many Indian names. Most of these people, before becoming VCs, were founders of successful startups. A large number of these people first came to US on H-1B.

Likewise, take a look of influential papers like, say DynamoDB one. You will find many Indian names in the list of authors, and most of them also worked on H-1B. The work of these people end up creating entire new fields of employment coast-to-coast.


H1-B workers are (by the nature of their visa) prohibited from creating companies

Founding a company is not the only way to create jobs


Actually Elon Musk did file for an H1-B when he quit Stanford to start Zip2.


An alternative argument is that the US has imported expensive technical education without having to pay for it.

This advantages the US and disadvantages the country where the technical education was delivered.

The question is whether the benefit to the US is distributed properly within the US.


H1-B holders can change jobs. The employer you're going to has to sponsor you and then you can just do an H1-B transfer.


The process is a nightmare. I've changed 3 jobs under H1B.


Both great points, I'll edit to say "change jobs easily".


Not to mention if you are applying for a green card you get bumped to the back of the line with every job change unless your i-485 approved


No, you get to keep your priority date. The priority date is whenever the labor certification ("PERM") was filed.


Can't have been that bad then. General employment is a nightmare, I've only changed jobs once in the last 8 years because it's so many BS hoops to jump through.


The difference is person in H1B faces same issues as you but there are more issues which are frankly more complicated and time consuming due to visa related things.


> I've worked with a few H1-B holders in Silicon Valley and they're awesome.

I see your point, but you can't group all H1-B holders in the same boat. The ones you worked were awesome, but I am sure many have worked with ones that were not awesome. I will note, I have worked with a few awesome H1-B holders too, but I won't fall for ALL being the same.

> If you are, like me, a software engineer, you should cheer every immigrant. They aren't competitors, they are complements and create more jobs.

It's hard for me to read this without thinking you are just virtue signalling. This is because across the board you can hear about skilled US engineers not getting the job, but yet find the companies that opted not to hire a US engineer has a ton of H1-B visas. You can't have a tech shortage, and at the same time have skilled workers in the same country struggling to get a good paying job in tech. This is also coupled with huge swaths of tech jobs being shipped overseas to the same places we are getting flooded with H1-B holders.

You could say -- well maybe the H1-B holders were more skilled? Maybe... But even if they were it is still a disservice to the US employees as they will not be given the opportunity to improve and hone their skills.

I also feel that people overlook the extra value a company has for hiring a H1-B over a citizen, even if they have the same skill and are paid the same. They get stickiness. There is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of stress moving from job to job. So often H1-B holders stay longer at companies when working conditions change for the worse.

> And if you are in SV consider that more than half of public tech companies were created by 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. 1st generation founders include Sergey Brin, Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Stewart Butterfield, Sebastion Thrun, and Patrick and John Collison.

I don't think it is a good idea to conflate immigrants to H1-B holders. While many of them do stay and become permanent residence, many of them also go back to the country they hailed from. I don't have the time right this second, but I do wonder how many of the immigrants on your list were in H1-B programs vs other routes of immigration.


It's much harder to get an H1-B anymore. The people who manage to get one are mostly top-tier talent that are either battle-tested (rose through the ranks at a consulting firm) or are very good, domain experts.

It's like saying, not every former Google developer is awesome. It might be true, but the bar to get a job there is so high that the person is very likely to be awesome.


> It's like saying, not every former Google developer is awesome. It might be true, but the bar to get a job there is so high that the person is very likely to be awesome.

It's not a high bar, but the right shape. There is a difference.


Not a single one of those are H1-B. In the Sergey Brin and Max Levchin, and myself cases, our parents were under special refugee visas that literally took an act of congress to pas (thank you Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).


At every level, high skilled, medium skilled, and low skilled, immigrants tend to increase jobs and wages for natives. This is the rough consensus of economists.

There is lots of work to make this even more true, of the flavor "ok if we are only bringing in 1 million immigrants, who does this best". H1-B and student visas a consequence of that thinking.


While I see others saying economist say different.

But I would like to point out higher wages may be the result. But this normally comes at a cost of fewer citizen employees.

I don't see how you can argue H1B creates more jobs. But I can at least see how it might change pay for those not replaces or passed over.


When H1s are used to displace American workers at a lower cost, I am not sure “cheering all immigrants” is warranted. Some, but definitely not all. The Disney firings happened. And it has happened in many other places that aren’t as famous. When Disney has H1s displacing Americans who were already doing the job, that isn’t a “shortage,” which is the single purpose for which H1B was created.

I am not disputing the value of some H1Bs, but “cheering” for all of them? No way.

Also Sergey and Elon were not H1Bs. Including them in a discussion of H1Bs is intellectually dishonest, neither one was an H1B but instead entered the US via other programs — programs that aren’t under serious debate.


I was one of those Disney employees laid off in 2015 and there were no "shortages", they just wanted to save money. A few months later they wanted to do the same at their ABC unit. They told employees they were laid off and gave them a date and then walked it back because of the bad press.

https://aknextphase.com/disneys-wild-it-ride/


Southern California Edison (SCE) also did the same thing as Disney. Abused the H1B and L2 program fired american workers and replaced them with foreign contractors.


Just curious, what program did Elon Musk enter? I think he has said he entered with an H1B previously: https://www.quora.com/Did-Elon-Musk-have-legal-authorization...


I am wondering how not having H1B could have helped the Disney employees though. If Disney wants to cut costs and hire cheaper labor (presumably why they hired H1Bs? I don't know), they could as well move the jobs offshore. Now the US is losing out on much more than just the jobs. What am I missing here?


the whole idea of "just moving the jobs offshore" doesn't really come out to be as simple as you have equated here. there's often time zone differences, cultural difference, a simple inability to do work (e.g. anything requiring access to physical infrastructure, any client-facing meetings, etc.)

it's not like you can flip a switch and get a fully functioning setup, even with something like development.

we've seen this charade with foxconn, amazon, etc. turns out that the whole "highest bidder competitions" turn out to be not-so-thinly veiled con jobs where basically everyone but the corp loses aside from some marginal people like property holders.


I was under the impression that Amazon has a large portion of its engineering talent outside the US.


Who told you that? That was not my experience at all working there a few years back. Even for global teams like AWS engineering support, the US offices easily tripled the international ones in number of engineers.

I knew exactly one team based in Germany, but that was only because AWS acquired that product and team.


that's a pretty nice red herring you've introduced there my friend!

you haven't addressed any of the points i've brought up, but instead introduced a very tangential (possibly true) fact.

reflect for a moment on what i've said above. you are introducing a dichotomy that isn't accurate and justifying it by saying "something is better than nothing", which is the same corporate rationale for having a .000001% tax rate, states going crazy to attract huge companies, and so forth.


The options aren't immigrants or offshore. Yes, some jobs will be lost to offshore but some won't. From the perspective of American workers, even if 90% go offshore it's better than 100% going to immigrants.


> Economics is complicated and sometimes counterintuitive,

In our case, it's pretty intuitive: more software in the world increases the demand for software engineers. You need people to maintain software; profitable software packages spurs reinvestment into new features; the improved efficiency of companies will drive competitors to also invest in software.

The downside is that easy-to-use software displaces low-end engineers. So demand may continue to grow, but so too will the educational requirements. When I started, I rarely used math beyond arithmetic in my job, but today, I'm often doing calculus.


> To prime your intuition a bit, consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages.

Is that actually true though? I remember reading / hearing in podcasts that now it takes two people working full time to get the same lifestyle we had when only one member in the household was expected to work.


I am not against H1Bs, but the minimum pay should be raised to 100k. They should be able to switch jobs after 1 year so they are not slaves to their sponsor.

And every h1B application should be posted on a easily searchable site where American applicants can review and apply for that position if they meet the job criteria.


Every H1B application (or rather, the LCA that preceeeds the H-1B petition) does appear in a government database and multiple public-facing sites that you can search. You can see the job title, company, location, wage being paid, and many many other pieces of information.


> A great improvement would be to allow H1B holders to change jobs easily (maybe after a year). It's too easy for them to get stuck in not great situations. It would be great for everyone if they could move to better fitting jobs, especially for startups who have trouble running H1-B programs.

Josh, what's needed in US is a simple plain work visa, without any pretence of "high levelness" - something that was common in all Western countries before immigration alarmisms became a such a severe thing.

For the society to accept immigrant workforce, it needs to become more open and less xenophobic again.

The primary reason for messed up immigration systems across the Western nations has nothing to do with the labour market, but plain closet racism of unwashed masses that uses all arguments above as a cover.


Correlation is not causation. As another poster pointed out, wages are stagnant even though GDP has skyrocketed.


> A great improvement would be to allow H1B holders to change jobs easily

Yes, that would be great for the workers, but not great for the companies who want a cheap and captive labor force and bribe the politicians to get their H1-B slots.


How do you feel about the broader high skilled worker market? I'm not personally familiar with it, but the internet™ makes it sound pretty abysmal. Low wages for most science careers, horrible working conditions and pay for graduate positions, professorships replaced by adjunct positions, fewer and fewer tenure track positions offered. It appears as though the high skilled worker market has really taken it in the pants the past few decades.


> A great improvement would be to allow H1B holders to change jobs easily (maybe after a year).

Aren't their visas sponsored by a specific company? Incentives aren't structured for this to happen. One way to look at is is that the US government are letting companies serve as "scouts" to bring talent in, and the companies' commission is to retain their exclusive employment for a period of time.


It's not the jobs I'm worried about; it's the housing. Where are we going to put all these people? SF already has the median home of around $1,000,000. Pro immigration policies will just make it worse.


>To prime your intuition a bit, consider how woman and minorities more than doubled the work force from the 1960s to 1990s with no loss in jobs or lowering of wages.

You do realize there hasn't been a raise in real wages since the 70s when you account for inflation right? Coincidentally during that same time period the income gap exploded because the wealthy had plentiful cheap labor and were able to pocket the productivity gains as pure profit because workers had no leverage to demand higher wages because there were 0 labor shortages. American's used to be able to support large families of 4+ kids with only 1 working parent. Now you have households with both working and they can't afford to have kids.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/07/for-most-us-...

I support high skilled immigration because it benefits the country but let's be real, if we dropped 10 million software engineers in Silicon Valley from around the world, guess what? Wages would drop massively because it would be a buyer's market for tech companies, they could pick and choose the most talented for pennies


By this logic, any increase in productivity is bad because it reduces labor scarcity. That's just not how it works.

> if we dropped 10 million software engineers in Silicon Valley from around the world, guess what?

Guess what, we'd get a lot more overseas clients as they wrestled with the labor shortage abroad. (Although, the real problem would be the humanitarian crisis in housing 10m more in SV overnight, ha)


The h1bs salary requirements allowed large companies to import cheap workers and compete with American labor.

It's not a coincidence that the biggest numbers of applications went to some of the big Indian IT companies.

It's a good thing they will be changed so that the cost get equalized rather than allowing big companies to import cheap and skilled labour. If it's skilled it should be paid the same of course not less.

This has been known for a long time to be a problem but was mostly ignored until recently.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/06/us/outsourcin...


This hits the nail on its head. The reason why SV is so attractive to potential immigrants isn't because of its living standard of thousands of homeless people the healthcare, transportation or housing system.

It's because the scarcity of that particular labor makes it on one of the best paid tech sectors in the world. Most people go there for the money even if they may stay for other things. Well that, and the fact that other highly skilled people compete for those few spots available, which means you might be surrounded by interesting peers.

China for example has 10x as many communication network engineer graduates as the whole of Europe altogether. That's ignoring the fact that a significant number of graduates are migrants themselves. I believe China and India have the longest Green Card waiting lists.


Problem is finding actual talent vs talent on a resume that doesn't work well.


Like the market for used cars. All other things remaining equal the problem restrains pay for top performers.


>any increase in productivity is bad because it reduces labor scarcity

Isn't it? Increases in productivity, normally called automation, must reduce labour scarcity unless demand for the product is proportionately increased. There are plenty of sectors where this is exactly what happens, and some where it isn't.


> Increases in productivity, normally called automation

That is a wrong assumption to start with. Inventing the wheel wasn't automation.


Actually...

Production has three components: capital, labor, and technology. Automation, as I understand it, both improves technology and lowers the cost of capital.

If I recall right, this strand of economic lit is called Total Factor Productivity.[0]

I believe the Wheel falls squarely in the technology bracket.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_factor_productivity


Inventing the wheel absolutely is automation.

Why would the wheel, which allows the movement of goods with much less labor, be any different in concept than the transistor, which allows e.g. the accounting of a corporation to be done with far fewer accountants?

Or the assembly of a car with robots?

All productivity gains (expressed as production per person-hour) is a result of either (1) advancement in technology or (2) the increased use of existing technology through capital investment or (3) quality of labor (education, training, etc).

The invention of the wheel, the invention of fire, the invention of the steam engine, and the gas engine, the solar cell and the transistor all fall under (1) and the expansion of their use falls under (2).


One could argue that the invention of the wheel is actually automation. Instead of carrying goods on your back down to the river, now put it in a cart, and kick it to roll downhill... It is possibly the most basic automation, it does free human labor with a mechanical mean.


"If you wanted to increase the salaries of the lumberjacks, you would only need to pass a law that no axe could ever be sharpened" - Bastiat


>Guess what, we'd get a lot more overseas clients as they wrestled with the labor shortage abroad.

So exactly when is it that India is going to become a major client? You seem to think that a country with high unemployment or underemployment that exports a portion of their workforce won't quickly absorb that "shortage". That's a pretty poor assumption.


Guess what, we'd get a lot more overseas clients as they wrestled with the labor shortage abroad.

India produces more than 20 million undergrads every year. I don't think 10 million will make a dent in developers supply in India.


> By this logic, any increase in productivity is bad because it reduces labor scarcity. That's just not how it works.

Yes, this logic is perfectly sound. Increase in productivity has both good and bad impacts on a system within which it happens - the whole difficulty of managing a system (like a job market) is to find ways to pocket the good, and mitigate the bad.


It is hard believe so many people still don’t “get it”. You cannot inflate the supply of labor, regardless of the means, and get a good result for the average working stiff.


Hmm...how about: inflate the supply of labor, price of goods goes down and better goods are invented, then average working stiff benefits when buying these goods?

I understand your point that the average working stiff might experience wage loss or lose their job altogether, but I'm not sure you're considering the benefits to consumers, which is another role of the average working stiff.


Wages and salaries (and, perhaps, prices) would not go down. Your argument and the parent of it, is falling for the lump of labor fallacy. By adding supply of labor, the demand for labor goes up as well. It is actually well-agreed on by economists, but I see many smart people, on the left and right, get it wrong.

I implore you both to read and listen about it (google/"lump of labor").


That's the entire point of the real wages statistic: the price of goods has remained relatively pinned to wages since that point.


This is perfect, this is exactly what I'm arguing against!

Does this statement also seem true?

"It is hard to believe so many * economists * don't "get it". You cannot inflate the supply of labor, regardless of the means, and get a good result for the average working stiff."

What do we think economists are doing with all their data sets and papers and conferences and stuff?


See climate science, anti-vax, etc for the answer. Some significant percent of people will disagree with experts no matter what.


Opinions of economists vary. But neverminding that, if swelling the labor supply was so incredibly beneficial to the economy we would not be $21 trillion in debt and 40% of the population unable to muster $400 for an emergency. Give me a break.


First, it's unclear whether the debt is actually a bad thing. Note debts for countries don't work like debts for individuals, especially if said country controls the world's reserve currency.

Second, the idea that immigrants and women getting jobs is a major factor in 40% of Americans not having significant savings is so completely ungrounded in reality or even popular thought as to make me wonder if you're being deliberately dishonest.


What is hard to believe is that the mercantilist mindset has been vanquished 200 years ago, and you still need to instruct adults into why it doesn't work over and over again.


There must be some people out there earning more wages on the 10x increase in stock prices, investments..


That's super interesting, I didn't know that about hourly wages. I tend to think of income gaining from 1950 to 1990 and flattening from the mid 1990s to now.

Though it does look like total compensation (adding in benefits) did actually increase recently, they don't have anything for back to 1960. So maybe the story is that wages stayed flat, but benefits accounted for most of the income increase. Not an economist so I don't know how to tease this out.

Heath care does go up from 5% of gdp in 1960 to 18.2% today, maybe most compensation gain is going there? Plus retirement benefits.

But... from 1960 to 2000 the civilian labor force increased from 70 million to 141 million [1]. With all those new workers, by your link, compensation didn't actually shrink. That's weird huh? Also real median family income grew from $41K to $72K [2].

And sure 10 million software engineers added to SV tomorrow would lower wages. But maybe not long term? If it was 10 million countrywide? What would an economist or a careful wage survey say? Anyway we're talking about 85,000 jobs all over the country.

The main point of my comment is that when economists spend 10 years looking at data and arguing out every detail, they conclude that immigration is increasing jobs and increasing wages. They usually conclude that for specific wage markets too.

Maybe we can't rely on some anecdotes in the media to refute their conclusions?

[1] https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf (table 5)

[2] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEFAINUSA672N


So, it went from one person making $41K to two people making $72K ($36k each)? That doesn't seem like a growth situation.


Not quite.

From 1974 (they don't have data before that) to 2000, real mean personal income goes from 32K to 43K. [1], that's for individuals. The graph is useful to look at.

This is complex, for example there are also more single parent / single person households which tends to lower household incomes.

[1] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MAPAINUSA672N


I generally agree with what you say, but the median family income growing seems like it would be due to most households moving from one to two workers. Looking at it that way, it makes wages look even flatter over the time period.


Yes, this is right. Large increases in the workforce have increased the supply, reducing real wage growth, household earning has grown by adding a second earner. More work is getting done to get the same economic outcome. Put one way, this is terrible for wage earners, out another it is excellent for spenders since the thing you can buy have gotten cheaper through plentiful labor.


With children staying with their parents into adulthood and earning a wage, we might even speak of 3 wages per household.

This might be compensated my the raise of monoparental households.


Your third paragraph is it. This is mostly an out of control health care cost growth story. Three areas of cost growth--health care, education, and housing costs--have now eaten the gains of two entire generation of Americans and none of the three look set to stop their cancerous growth rates any time soon.

Way back in the ACA debates, when people talked about bending the cost curve, many people's eyes may have glazed over but that's exactly what we need to figure out a way to do. Not have a debate over immigration.


>Wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent. Even after the economy has fully adjusted, those skill groups that received the most immigrants will still offer lower pay relative to those that received fewer immigrants.

>Immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants—from the employee to the employer. And the additional profits are so large that the economic pie accruing to all natives actually grows... But behind that calculation is a much larger shift from one group of Americans to another: The total wealth redistribution from the native losers to the native winners is enormous, roughly a half-trillion dollars a year. Immigrants, too, gain substantially; their total earnings far exceed what their income would have been had they not migrated.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/trump-clinto...

Unless you're an immigrant or high up in tech business why would you cheer more high-skill immigrants? It will depress your wages and the economic gains will not accrue to you.


I don’t believe jobs are finite. I believe skilled immigrants improve competitiveness and create jobs across broad swaths of the economy, some even start very successful businesses. Many Fortune 500 founders were immigrants, and locking them out may have cost the country many hundreds of thousands of jobs.


Because there is a moral compass in the human being that takes into account non-economic benefits as well.

Why would you cheer against slavery if you could buy some up?


Either the work is done in your country, where you:

* control minimum wage laws etc.,

* collect the taxes,

* benefit from most of the money being spent locally,

or it’s done abroad, where a foreign government collects all the benefits.

Import duties don’t do much to fix that. And if you have most or all of the workforce, then you get to lobby against other nations’ import duties.


You don't really get to control min-wage laws, working standards or environmental regulations over the long term in a tariff free world. US trade deficits are growing and will inevitably have to be normalized. When that happens the US will have to become a lot more competitive with nations that don't have these standards in place. Stagnated wages are just the beginning and are borrowing time before labour standards and environmental standards are forced to equalize with the East.


This is why we need to start including a tariff with labor or environmental regulations. The point of those regulations is that we as a nation are accepting a decrease in economic efficiency for a (hopeful) net gain in general quality of life; if companies are allowed to just offshore their shit to some place that doesn't care without compensating in some other way than you're stuck the economic disadvantage without the accompanying benefit.


> The main point of my comment is that when economists spend 10 years looking at data and arguing out every detail, they conclude that immigration is increasing jobs and increasing wages.

Economists look at the past and extrapolate into future, often with really poor results. With increasing amount of automation, software development is probably safe from paradigm change for a short while. Given that, it is always risky to claim that immigration will increase jobs and wages in the next decade, because it did so in the previous one.


The population grew from 179M to 281M so the workforce didn’t really double. More like a 50% increase


The workforce grew, look at the link and table 5. Basically woman and minorities joined the workforce. Worker to population ratio went up and the total number of workers went up faster than the growth in population.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd say pretty much all the minorities have always been a part of the workforce.


Women were most of the increase, but minorities increased their participation too.

You can see the tail end (looks like they didn't survey it until 1980) of it here: https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/art2full.pdf Table 4, look at Black participation rates from 1990 to 2015.

For intuition think of extended families living together, being incarcerated, and being the last hired and the first fired (so out of work longer).


Thank you.

Exactly the answer I was looking for!


Jim Crow laws, blackballing, and redlining. You ant allowed to work in certain jobs, if you speak out (see Kapernick), no job for you! And you can’t even live within reasonable distance of work!


I did find personal income growth from 1974 on. That gets rid of the 2 income household problem. I think maybe they only surveyed households til 1974.

From 1974 to 2000, real mean personal income goes from 32K to 43K. [1]. The graph is useful to look at.

I do think some of the story is that most compensation gains went to benefits, especially our crazy expensive health care (again 5% to 18.2% of gdp). So the hourly wages stayed the same, but benefits went up. I think the original point, that more workers did not lower income, still holds.

Really I can't do an Econ Phd to respond to this thread. So I'll outsource to economists, who say more workers do not lower income.

[1] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MAPAINUSA672N


That would probably be true if all other conditions held constant.

However, Silicon Valley can pay handsome money because many companies located there run well and outperform their competitors for a fertile global market. And those companies can beat their competitors because (at least part of the reasons) they have the best talents available. If the skilled engineers from China, European, India all went back to their home countries, would the competitiveness of those SV companies be no different relative to their foreign competitors? If companies in SV were losing its advantage to another tech hub outside the united states, would they still be able to pay so well? I doubt that.


If labor/labour supply doubled wages would drop for most of the market.


That assumes the demand and the supply are independent variables.

More people would mean smaller pieces if the size of the pie held constant. But what if there are also fewer people making the pie?

In reality, it's even more complicated in that the contribution of the pie making is not proportional to the headcounts either.


> That assumes the demand and the supply are independent variables.

When the argument is that an increase in supply causes lower wages your counter argument doesn't make any sense at all. For wages to rise the demand has to grow faster than the oversupply. The primary way to increase demand is by lowering the price of a service aka workers get paid less. In other words it is possible that even with an extreme amount of immigration everyone still gets a decently paying job but in the end wages across the market have fallen.

Whatever pie analogy you're trying to pull doesn't matter. I don't know why people keep getting nerdsniped by that word and often even use their own hyper specific definition of it which doesn't match the definition of the other person. There is no law that says people always benefit from a growing economy and there is no law that says people can never benefit from a shrinking economy.


Software engineering isn’t most professions. Salaries have been going up more than a decade accounting for inflation.

If 10 million software engineers dropped in Silicon Valley, a lot of things would happen (for one there’s nowhere for them to live). But that’s not what’s happening.


It was hyperbole to show the effect of supply and demand

More and more I notice how similar software engineers are beginning to sound like the "Made in America" factory workers who said China could never do their job. Never take the present comfy situation for granted


Anyone who thinks China is not full of extremely talented software engineers does not know anything about China.


so true -- they're even kicking our ass in many fields of CS research.


If we want stuff to be made in America instead of China, we should increase the number of skilled immigrants allowed in.


Import tax on crap would solve it.


By "stuff" I was actually referring to digital products, digital technology, websites, technology companies, etc. An import tax on those would be harder than for physical products.


Yes, mostly crap.


I never claimed it wasn't crap, I said it's hard to tax imports of it.


It would not. An import tax reduces imports, but also reduces exports by a greater amount. An export tax on real estate transfers to foreign persons, cash or cash-equivalents, luxury goods, artwork, and technology--such as engineering documents and diagrams, manufacturing machinery, and firmware source code--would also not solve it, but it would bite a bigger chunk out of the problem.

Imports are paid for by exports. The US is currently paying for the manufacturing that it exported with dollars and documents. It could be paying with cars, and airplanes, and espresso machines, and in-sink garbage disposals, and novelty CNC lathes for engraving wooden pencils and chopsticks, and rapid refrigeration devices for single canned beverages, and maybe even non-imaginary 8K OLED television sets. If you make the specific exports that produce the most internal economic activity the cheapest way to pay for imports, increases in imports would encourage more exports.

If you're covering a trade deficit with cash, that impacts the same currency you use to conduct domestic trade--you're giving the trade partner leverage over your whole economy. What you really want to do is make a note spent in your own country buy far more than the same note spent elsewhere, so that the notes stay in the country, and the goods and services get exported instead. But you also want the rest of the world to have high demand for your currency, so that you can bring in a lot of imports, or go on lots of cheap tourist vacations. So devaluing your currency is not the best option.

But if you had, say, a 50% tax on foreign money transfers, if someone were to buy a $1 doodad from Elbonia, they would have to pay $2 for it in cash--$1 for the importer, and $1 for the tax. But they could also pay for it by purchasing a $1 doohickey locally and trading that for the $1 doodad, avoiding the tax, and keeping the $1 circulating in the domestic economy, and the Elbonian money circulating in Elbonia. Instead of taxing the trade itself, tax imbalanced trades and trade deficits.

Of course, any real-world implementation would be politicized to Hell and back, and chock full of loopholes, but it works just fine between imaginary countries.


As a consumer I don't corporations outsourcing manufacturing to China and then bringing back crap, charging me full price and keeping the difference.

As a patriot I'd rather pay higher price for domestically made products and know that our local workers made it.

There is a balance of course between killing imports and selling country short and flooding it with crap - but certainly China was having a party paid by north american consumers for last 3 decades.


There already are import taxes on "crap" like electronic components. Browse around digi-key for "tariff pending" or "tariff applied". All its doing is making bills of material more expensive.


If they did the same, US exports would tank.


Software engineer salaries have been rising in a globalized market. Companies can already hire wherever they want. Many do.

I have no doubt that if companies can pay workers less then they will. But that’s not what’s happening.


Rising compared to what? Junior engineers are doubling or tripling up to live near work in metropolitan areas or face crushing commutes. It's a sign that even in software engineering, capital is crushing labor.


You're describing two different problems. Housing supply in the Bay Area and New York -- the areas I'm assuming you're talking about, because most other metropolitan cities are building to keep up with supply just fine -- is incredibly low. In addition, in the Bay Area especially, the incredibly high salaries in combination with that supply is causing skyrocketing prices.


Be aware that Silicon Valley is an extreme global outlier in real estate prices.


Not really, there's cities all over the world with conditions that lead to crazy high real estate/housing costs. Most every metropolis ends up with a similar situation. Slightly different settings that all sum up to "high demand low supplies". NYC, London, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Tokyo, ...


SF is an outlier compared to London. From expatistan.com:

Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 Sqft) furnished accommodation in NORMAL area:

SF: $3,663 (£2,789) London: £1,766 Difference: 58%


Worth noting that the difference there is exaggerated somewhat by the unusually low value of the pound at the moment.


Worth noting that tech workers in London make about 1/2 to 1/3 of what they do in the Bay.


It might be worth noting in another context, but tech worker salaries don't determine London rents.


The unusualness of the pound is about 10%, +/- the usual variations, isn’t it?


Depends on what period you're considering:

https://www.macrotrends.net/2549/pound-dollar-exchange-rate-...

If you take 1.6 USD = 1GBP as typical of recent times, then it's more like 20%.


Is this true when you are comparing similar conditions? Something along the lines of: Large cities with significant multiculturalism, high tech jobs, significant culture (arts, media, entertainment, museums, etc.), public transportation, and openness to various ways of life


Yes. Try moving to Minneapolis, which has plenty of everything you ask for and housing prices are not out of control. If you don't need a large city, Des Moines does well too on the rest of your qualifications.


Not Compared to London though - London does have a much better transport system so living 60-70 miles away and commuting isn't as bad as it would be in SV.


Indeed. An argument could be made that given the astronomical living costs of Silicon Valley, the wages should have already been higher given how much profits the companies are making.


More and more? I recall software engineers were panicked over outsourcing just over 15 years ago. Have you watched Office Space? This is not a new phenomenon.


> You do realize there hasn't been a raise in real wages since the 70s when you account for inflation right

This also coincides with the end of the gold standard ('68) and subsequently cheaper interest rates and (thereby) access to much more and cheaper capital for those who already have enough capital to begin with.

Also, lower interest rates beget higher inflation.


Standard of living arguably continues to increase as well.


Technological advance is a confounding factor for basically any empirical discussion about economics and standard of living.

Any smooth annual negative impact below the rate of technological advance is very hard to detect due to this.


I reckon if standard of living improves, so does my dollar per unit of happiness ratio improves, then a flat real wage isn't a terrible thing.

Of course, this belies the fact that wealth inequality increases. This means though the median may stay stable, the tails get fatter: or, in other words, the standard of living isn't necessarily getting better for everyone.


No, wealth inequality increased because we stopped taxing rich people.


Wealth inequality has increased mostly due to the massive expansion of the global economy, which was a large benefit to capital owners and was a detriment to US labor (whose wages were artifically very high in the post WW2 decades). Global labor competed, capital benefited. Federal Reserve policies since ~1970 have also overwhelmingly favored capital, asset holders, and not workers.

The US tax code has gotten more progressive over time, not less. The very high tax rates from the past were quite narrow in scope, they covered few taxpayers.

The top 25% are paying 85-88% of all income taxes in a given year. The top 10% are paying 70% of all income taxes.

The top 1% yield 20% of all income and pay 39% of all income taxes.

How do you qualify that very progressive tax code as "stopped taxing rich people"?

Simultaneously the US welfare state has massively expanded since 1970. Poverty and homelessness have declined by a lot, while healthcare coverage expanded dramatically. The US spends the equivalent of 20% of its GDP on social welfare programs. That's higher than Canada and Australia, just slightly behind the UK at 22%. All of that is paid for by the top 25% of income earners.


> The US tax code has gotten more progressive over time, not less. The very high tax rates from the past were quite narrow in scope, they covered few taxpayers.

That's not how that works. The U.S. has become massively more disparate in income and wealth, which alone would explain why more taxpayers fall into high tax brackets: the middle class is evaporating, leaving a somewhat larger upper class (more high-income taxpayers paying a lot!) and a massively larger lower class (also more low-income taxpayers paying very little), thus shifting the balance of how much the wealthy pay for the poor: with less of a middle class, the wealthier are the originators of a higher percentage of the tax revenue just by mathematics. That's not the tax code becoming "more progressive over time," that's the US having more inequality over time.

But it didn't happen alone. It also happened under repeated tax cuts for the wealthy. The U.S. tax code has become demonstrably less progressive over time, just as the U.S. has become demonstrably less economically equal.

> The US spends the equivalent of 20% of its GDP on social welfare programs. That's higher than Canada and Australia, just slightly behind the UK at 22%.

Right, but that's because the health care system of "no preventative care for the poor, but massive spending on medical procedures once you're already dying" is incredibly inefficient. Single-payer healthcare is cheaper than what we have, demonstrated by almost every large country with it spending less (while often getting better results). It's not because the tax system is progressive, or because the social safety net is somehow better or larger than countries with free healthcare and cheap higher education.


Medicaid covers the poor and preventative services. Adjust your political rant accordingly.


Medicaid only provides preventative care to children... Providing adults with preventative care is optional and varies (heavily) by state. https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/coverage-of-prevent...

Are you saying that Medicaid doesn't cover preventative care?


There's been another major shift as well. This [1] graph is critical. There were more self employed workers in the US in 1948 than there are today. The population since then has increased by more than 220%. And the trend increases the further back you go. I mention 1948 only because that's as far back as FRED's data goes! The US used to be a land largely driven by self employment.

We had large numbers of mostly independent economic centers populated with local businesses owned and operated by local individuals. In many ways it's something akin to what you can find in many parts of the developing world today. And it's awesome. But as the economy 'globalized' we've reached a point such that an urban business streetscape in California can very often look effectively identical, in terms of businesses in operation, to one all the way on the other side of the country in New York. You're never going to have anything even vaguely resembling economic equality when a handful of companies control immense amounts of the entire economy.

This also distorts governmental systems since extensive wealth means the reach of companies is practically unlimited. Civil servant versus a company sitting on billions of dollars with international connections spanning the entire globe and the best legal and public relations teams that money can buy? That's not even David vs Goliath, that's ant vs foot.

[1] - https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12027714


Anecdotally, whenever I post something about my business on social media, it is mostly ignored. But if someone posted something about new job they got - it is celebrated. So I see there is also social attitude supporting employment over self-employment. Not sure if it was the same in 1948.


Regulation has killed small business.


Efficiencies of scale killed small business. People had the choice of patronizing small business or large business, and they chose the latter.


Lack of capital investment killed small businesses. Everyone now has to pay a tax penalty to take your earned capital and invest it into local main-street businesses. This capital instead, though 401k, goes into trans-national firms.


I think that the lack of capital investment you're describing can be thought of as a particular instance of the economy of scale (at least, broadly construed): larger and/or conglomerated companies, prima facie, have to depend less on capital injections.


i cannot upvote this enough. The regulation has very little if anything to do with the closure of the vast majority of small businesses. Access to larger/more efficient companies that provide better service to cost has killed the demand for the services that small businesses provide.


> All of that is paid for by the top 25% of income earners.

How exactly is that worked out? Income taxes ($1.6t) and payroll taxes ($1.2t) are a similar level, and rich people tend not to pay payroll taxes as they aren't on a payroll.

Payroll taxes cover social security payments ($1t), so that leaves income taxes paying for things like Defence ($1.2t for military and veteran affairs), which wealthy people disproportionately benefit from.

Medicare and medicaid are the unusual ones, for the cost of those two alone ($1t, or $3000 per head) you could afford universal healthcare in other western countries.


Removing the higher-taxed brackets, and the slow creep of inflation, which has pushed lower-earners into higher brackets, and made more people subject to AMT, has made income tax less progressive over time. The introduction and removal of tax-advantaged loopholes, that are only exploitable above a certain level of income, has made the progressiveness of the tax more volatile and harder to assess.

Focusing on how much the wealthy pay, as a proportion of all taxes paid, is rolling up the progressiveness of the tax code with the income inequalities that already exist. Why do you rob banks? That's where the money is. Why do you tax the rich? They're the ones who can afford to pay.

I really don't see why income tax can't be defined as a polynomial equation in a single variable (for gross income) and an additional constant, equal to median income for the previous year. With a floor function to obviate negative taxes.

The tax can be zero up to the median income, ramp up quickly to an inflection point at about 30% for the dollar at 3x median income, then increase at a decreasing rate to asymptotically approach 100% for infinite income. For the purposes of argument, I'll say that the dollar at 100000x median income would be taxed at 90%.

As long as it's a continuous and increasing function--after the first "median income" amount of one's income--every additional dollar of gross income is still a positive amount of additional net income. Only the winners pay. It's always worth something to increase your gross income. It could also be a viable strategy to reduce your own taxes by spending a lesser amount on increasing median income--i.e. pay your below-median workers more money.


> The US tax code has gotten more progressive over time, not less

your math is way off because your're mixing nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio[1]

e.g. ten people in econony 9 poorest make $100/year 1 richest makes $200/year

poor tax rate: 5% rich tax rate: 20%

rich pay 42% of taxes 40 / (40 + 45)

now, lower tax rates on the rich and at the same time his income explodes (what's actually happened since early 1980's)

1 richest person makes $1000/yr rich man tax rate 15% rich pay 76% of all taxes (150 / (150 + 45)), which is much higher than before (your progressive argument)

but you claim that tax rates have become more progressive, when in fact and in example above they have become more regressive.

[1] https://www.mymarketresearchmethods.com/types-of-data-nomina...


If that were true rich people wouldn’t be paying half of the taxes.

Even when the US had high marginal tax rates for the wealthy, there were tons more loopholes so the effective tax rate was significantly less. That’s the reason people were on board with lowering the marginal rate in exchange for the elimination of lots of deductions.


The US didn't have an income tax at all until the 20th century, at least at the federal level


Rich: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy: a rich man; a rich nation.

Not sure how income tax would apply to that


It also didn't have any public entitlements. It's also 100 years later. So the point is not particularly relevant.


If the US doesn't allow software engineers in, will they just disappear? Nope. They'll write code for foreign companies which will compete with Silicon Valley. I.e. the competition is there anyway.


> because it would be a buyer's market for tech companies, they could pick and choose the most talented for pennies

Not exactly too much of a price drop would negate the point of them wanting to come in the first place.


> You do realize there hasn't been a raise in real wages since the 70s when you account for inflation right?

Thank decades of union busting and neoliberalism for that one. When corporations only pay out the minimum that they can get away with instead of following the historic Ford mantra that people must be paid liveable wages, this is what results.


You do realize that in the post war period we were the only large economy that was relatively unscathed helping out domestic producer margins?


You do realize there hasn't been a raise in real wages since the 70s when you account for inflation right?

That's true if you only look at wages. If you look at total compensation, it's grown quite a lot even adjusted for inflation - doubling between 1970 and 2006.[1]

[1]https://www.nber.org/digest/oct08/w13953.html


> American's used to be able to support large families of 4+ kids with only 1 working parent. Now you have households with both working and they can't afford to have kids.

I'm broadly sympathetic to your viewpoint, but this isn't accurate. Children are fundamentally not expensive. The problem is that couples believe they can't afford to have kids, not that they actually can't afford them.


Typical income is 50k a year and it takes ~250k to raise a kid you are looking at 13,888k a year for the kid, after taxes

Children are extremely expensive. I have raised 4. You are broke the entire time and can always spend more on them.

In the US you are 1 medical incident from not affording anything and relying on welfare

https://www.thestreet.com/personal-finance/cost-to-raise-chi...


You can always spend more on anything. That doesn't mean there's a good reason to do it.


You will notice the children who grow up to be the most productive tend to get the most support from their parents. I guess it depends on how much you want your kids to succeed vs how much you want to keep for yourself.


Extra mouth to feed, extra room (bigger house), constantly changing wardrobe, yearly expenses on school materials and books, extra phone and computer, childcare, etc...

You must have a very weird definition of "cheap".


My health insurance costs alone would almost quadruple if I had a wife+kid


Mine (through work) quadrupled when I got the wife even though we're childfree. The work benefit I was offered provided for either me alone or for my family with unlimited dependents.


Most of it would be on your spouse. Unlike you they are completely subsidized by your employer.

My current plan:

$100/mo - me

$125/mo - me + child(ren)

$350/mo - me + spouse + child(ren)


As a self-employed software developer, the CHEAPEST healthcare plan for my family is $1030/month ($10k deductible).

You are referring to a benefit you get from your salaried position. Nice but many developers do not have this luxury.


Children are more expensive now because of societal pressure to raise kids to a higher standard because people have less of them.

Imagine all the hand wringing that would ensue if at lunch with my colleagues (which is a rough approximation of the HN demographic) I mentioned that I got a 5yo hand-me-down car seat instead of buying the latest and greatest. Generalize that pressure to pretty much every child raising related expense.


It looks like a lot of car seat brands are considered expired starting at 6-ish years, so yeah, I wouldn't suggest using a 5yo car seat.


Good intentions or not that's exactly the kind of hand wringing I mean.

I know plastics become more brittle with age but a modern car seat that's expired is going to be tons safer than a car seat from 2000 (mostly because engineers now have better access to good simulation tools at lower cost). So what if little Jimmy isn't maximally safe. He's still a heck of a lot safer (from an unlikely edge case no less) than he would have been if he were born 15yr ago.


"I know plastics become more brittle with age but a modern car seat that's expired is going to be tons safer than a car seat from 2000"

How do you know this? Maybe there's technology (crumple areas) that only works when the plastic is relatively new or cushion areas that only are most effective before they degrade, thus making them less safe than good old fashion plastic. We see this with modern cars in their bumper technology - they take the first impact better, but they aren't as rugged as older models. Do you actually know the trade-off, or are you just assuming?


There's a little bit of assumption about material design in there but it's obvious from the seat designs that they've come a long way. They're actually designed to fit the form of the body now (which is a big deal for safety). Old seats were little more than booster seats with integrated seat belts. It's like the difference between a 60s bucket seat and a modern racing bucket seat.


Only if your kids don't go to childcare, sleep on the kitchen floor and run around in rags.


It to mention housing prices.


Wouldn't everyone become a founder then?


> American's used to be able to support large families of 4+ kids with only 1 working parent. Now you have households with both working and they can't afford to have kids.

This statement isn't supported by the Pew Research article you linked to. If real average earnings are constant then a household which now has two breadwinners will double its income and be better off.

Also keep in mind longitudinal effects: native-born Americans have seen their wages rise but this is offset by immigrants who generally have lower-than-average wages - but still higher than in the country they emigrated from. Both groups are better off even though average wages haven't changed.


Now you have households with both working and they can't afford to have kids

This strikes me as ridiculous as a broad-brush, general statement. It's not that Americans can't afford to have kids, it's that they incentivize different things than they did in the past. I don't deny that real wages haven't risen because of the supply of workers and dual-income families, but c'mon. There's been an increase in professional married people that want it all, and these DINKs refuse to sacrifice anything materially to have children. They have lots of adult toys and other conveniences, but somehow can't find the money to raise a child.


Could you provide a cost breakdown of the first 10 years of raising a child in, say, SV or NY? I can't follow your thinking here at all. Childcare, from what I hear is immensely expensive, and after a certain age, you need a bigger home. Conversely, staying without kids means you don't spend on any of those things. What have I missed?


You don't "need" a bigger home. You can perfectly have 2 children in a 900sqft 3 bedroom appartment.


But you don't need a 3 bedroom appartment for 2 people.


I'm sorry but you don't seem to know what kids kost. Rent, childcare, clothing, food plus only one income are in no relation to some electronic toys or a fancy holiday.


I have two kids. I must be doing it wrong.


> They have lots of adult toys and other conveniences, but somehow can't find the money to raise a child.

I'm German and affected by this. It begins with being unable to rent an apartment with enough space for a kid and ends with "how to afford a car in this city".


<tone-deaf> But Europe has good public transit everywhere. Surely you can take rail + bus + walk to get anywhere you want to go even with kids.</tone deaf>

Dragging toddler around on public transit is a massive PITA. One is doable but two is hell.


The quality of public transit varies between cities. My parents for example raised two children without having a car.


    > these DINKs refuse to sacrifice anything materially
    > to have children. They have lots of adult toys and
    > other conveniences, but somehow can't find the
    > money to raise a child.
Well, some DINK's don't want children. Not everyone has to reproduce. There's many different factors involved here than material comfort.

Also, in many American cities, public school is totally out of the question (if you actually care about having well-educated children). Families either have to send their kids to elite private schools at ~20K/per year OR they have to move to somewhere on the periphery of the city where schools are good but you have other trade-offs in time or money. These aren't selfish materialistic concerns they're real obstacles that cause people to defer having children.


Elite private schools in SF and NY are closer to 40k/yr. Catholic schools tend to be much less, with elite high schools in the 20-25k range, though it’s not an exact substitution. Catholic schools teach Catholicism, and while students are not obliged to be catholic, they must attend religious services. The catholic 20k tuition schools also tend to be larger than independent elite privates, though many of them are reasonably elite as measured by sat scores and colleges attended.

This all supports your point, other than to say it’s even more expensive than you’ve indicated.


> refuse to sacrifice anything materially to have children

There are also those that have the best motives for not having children - namely that the country is getting worse, and why inflict a negative future on them? Environmental destruction, overcrowding, pollution, insane property prices, worsening opportunities to get on in life, rampant crime and drugs with disinterested policing and lax punishment apart from against those that are legitimately defending their rights (who are punished harshly), general undermining of traditional values, etc..

Oh but of course I'm just a bigoted dinosaur for holding these thoughts.


Thank you for your comment , joshe, and for being a small light in the darkness. There's so much hatred in here. I'm on an H-1B, and I've never worked for a low-paying or shitty company, and I've been very well-paid. At my last company, I was the highest paid person in my team. And, I've on one occasion made over $200,000 in a single year. I've never met one of underpaid immigrant engineers. Every immigrant I've known in NYC makes over $140,000. Of course, the facts don't matter--as we live in a "post-truth" age.

Reading the comments here, makes one feel hated, and like a Jew in Nazi Germany. Of course, the immigrant-haters in here have zero respect or regard for the truth. Like the antisemitic canard[1], they try to draw this picture of people like me being "slaves" and being underpaid. A picture that is totally alien to me. It's useless to engage with the people here--the only thing they understand is hatred for immigrants. Sometimes, I wish their ancestors would have never been allowed to immigrate (they certainly would not have succeeded in moving here, under the law today).

Not acknowledging this country has among the worst and least-welcoming laws for skilled workers in the whole world: https://www.vox.com/2015/6/23/8823349/immigration-system-bro... The dedicated haters on this thread want to eliminate the tiny trickle of skilled immigrants that this 330+ million country lets in. To be precise, that's about 0.02% of the population[2]. It's a joke (the quota).

I've lived here since mid-2007, have all my friends and relationships and community here, but the majority of people on this HN thread would love to see my life destroyed. They would love to see my forced out of the country by ICE at gunpoint. They're filled with nothing but vile hatred and darkness. A hatred whose consequence is real violence.

And to be clear, Americans are generally warm, welcoming, and friendly people, but the ones in this thread are among the worst specimens. They remind me of the bunch of angry men with Tiki torches at Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The people here are screaming to destroy my life. Who knew many in Silicon Valley and Hacker News would hold the most repugnant alt-right views when it came to immigrants and of protecting their basic human dignity? It's a disgrace.

This whole thread is disgusting.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitic_canard

[2] About 65k principal EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 green cards are granted annually. (Principal here means non-derivative, ie. not spouses or children.) That's about 5% of the 1.2 million total green cards issued. The remaining 95% of greencards are granted on the basis of a family relationship or on a humanitarian claim.


Thank you, I appreciate it!

Part of the problem is that the media loves writing outrage stories. Training your own replacements is a perfect story for that. A journalist will write that story. Every. Single. Time.

Take the story "this 40 person team with 3 H1-B employees, is now a 400 person team". Each of those H1-B employees created 10 jobs + some extra jobs at other companies. This (roughly) has happened to me twice, there will never be a news article about that.

The original bit was just a plea to not use the intuition we get from news stories, and look to economists instead.

This kind of thread attracts people who are very easily influenced by outrageous media stories like that. They are very confused. It seems so obvious to them that we could just stop immigration and stop bad things from happening. They are super angry that no one is doing anything to solve this obvious problem. What they don't understand is that really no one is fixing it because when you look closely it's not a problem at all.

HN can be a place were people think about real hard problems and talk about how to solve them, I hope it can be more like that. (This is a fake problem.) The world needs people who face up to reality and try to improve it.

Your coworkers, company, customers, friends, and family are all greatly improved by your work and presence. Long term I hope that wins out.


>Like a Jew in Nazi Germany

Really? You're going to compare your situation to that?


You're right, not until they are sent to gas chambers. /s


Sure, except the bill rate for my services hasn't changed since like 1998. It sucks, dude.

Reading through the comments, people already said it all, but I came back to vent. After 20 years in this shitty business I can vent if I want to.

I currently work in the US Midwest with a lot of foreign colleagues. They're pretty good people, OVERALL, but the ones that aren't are super-shitty, but that's true of the pastey-white native born Americans, too. But when the going gets tough, and when you need to be creative, the folks from, let's call it "that other place" just don't have any solutions.

Many of the people I work with wait for me to build a solution, then they literally copy and paste it into their project whether or not the design suitably fits their problem. A lot of projects here are a mess because of this "square peg in round hole" behavior. Worse, many of those guys get promoted above their mental capacity and now they're calling the shots and making horrific decisions because they networked with each other and shut out the truly competent people. This is the tippy top of the Fortune 500 here I'm talking about, btw. This is not some Mom & Pop podunk shop and the stakes are high. And so if this constitutes "best and brightest" we're in deep doodoo.


Your copy & paste comment really resonated with my experiences. Our services are a cobbled together mess of pasted solutions from other services, and members of the team often say something is impossible because they can't find an example of the exact same problem being solved somewhere else in the code base.

Amazingly, they are just as aggressive as the competent people when it comes to pursuing promotions and responsibility, despite not being able to write a function in the main language of the company after working in it for multiple years.

I don't know how things got this absurd, but here we are.


Pure ideology.


Stewart is still pretty Canadian... His primary residence is in Vancouver last I checked. I mean, the whole city would probably start crying if he permanently left.


H1-B mandates a lower than competitive wage that the recipient's get stuck in, this isn't the same situation as women / minorities gaining access to the workplace unless their access came at a mandatory much lower salary.


Do you just enjoy spewing lies incessantly? The H-1B LCA requires visa holders be paid equivalent to or better than U.S. workers. Also, the LCA often lists a lower salary than what people earn. At my last company, my base salary was close to 140k, but the H-1B LCA on file listed 95k or something. With bonuses, I've made over 200k in a single year in the past. My tax return and the H-1B LCA paint two very different pictures. Based on the public LCA records, one would think I was paid 95k. And, of course, the dedicated haters and liars here on HN will probably say the company violated immigration and labor law, and paid less than what the LCA required. They'd probably suggest I was paid 30k. Of course, the truth doesn't matter to these haters. They're filled with a disgusting hatred of immigrants, along with a repugnant and shameless love of dishonesty.


> The H-1B LCA requires visa holders be paid equivalent to or better than U.S. workers.

This is a typical bureaucrat solution. An an immigrant you dont have the power to leverage salary, so there is no chance you will get the same results as an american, adjusted for everything else. First of all, there is a legal cost of the visa, which is and will always be paid by the employee. Second, you can adjust salary in 20 ways the bureaucrat cant see: PTO, stock grants, chances of advances, bonuses, etc. And finally, if you as an employee cant go into your bosses office saying a competing company wants to pay you 20%, because you cant do that with an H1B, your long term income is also affected.

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