July 18, 2012
The debate over foreign skilled workers in the United States divides along painfully predictable fault lines. On one side, tech CEOs complain that the country’s flawed education system can’t produce the talent they need to stay competitive. On the other side, labor and anti-immigration groups charge that companies just want to import cheaper labor from China and India at the expense of qualified U.S. workers.
In a new study, Brookings Institution researchers have drilled down into the numbers and found that the data doesn’t neatly support either side. Despite the interconnectedness of the global economy, the economics of bringing skilled foreign workers to the United States remains very much local.
Companies that want to bring in college-educated foreign workers must apply for what are known as H-1B visas. The Brookings study appears to be one of the first that looks at H-1B applications at not just the national but the metro level.