Hatch, Flake promote 21st century workforce through I-Squared Act

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sens. Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, issued statements Tuesday after underscoring the importance of passing the Immigration Innovation, or “I-Squared,” Act in a Senate judiciary committee hearing on high-skilled immigration.

“In our global innovation marketplace, America cannot afford to continue to lose the talent we educate and train to our competitors,” Hatch said. “While opponents may attempt to question the need for high-skilled immigration reform, the facts prove otherwise. Our I-Squared bill is essential to creating American jobs, fueling our economic recovery, advancing our 21st century workforce, and maintaining America’s position as the world’s brightest beacon of innovation.”

High-skilled immigration

“America, and American companies, need more high-skilled workers. This is an undeniable fact. America’s high-skilled worker shortage has become a crisis.

Last year American companies were unable to hire nearly 90,000 high-skilled workers they need to grow their businesses, develop innovative technologies, and compete with international competitors,” the statement said.

“Today’s hearing reiterated what we already know: Our current immigration system is not meeting our needs,” Flake said. “Along with other critical solutions, Congress needs to guarantee that our country remains a leader in innovation and global competition by ensuring access to the highly skilled talent U.S. companies need, a vibrant economy for homegrown and foreign entrepreneurs, and that U.S. universities continue to attract the best and the brightest from around the world.”

Supply-side economists have reported that a 10 percent growth in H-1B population would correspond to a six to 12 percent growth in invention (measured as patents) among immigrant groups and a 0.5 to one percent growth in patents by U.S. natives.

As the conservative American Enterprise Institute has confirmed, each foreign-born worker with a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, or STEM, degree who remains in the United States creates an average of more than 2.5 additional American jobs, the statement said.

America will face a shortage of more than 220,000 workers with STEM degrees by 2018, and foreign-born STEM workers complement the American workforce, they don’t take American jobs.

There is full employment for U.S. STEM workers with advanced degrees: While the current national unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent, the unemployment rate for U.S. citizens with Ph.D.s in STEM is just 3.15 percent and 3.4 percent for those with master’s degrees in STEM. Given that the U.S. government has defined “full-employment” to be 4 percent, this suggests a skills shortage of STEM professionals with advanced degrees, the statement said.

In many STEM occupations, unemployment is virtually non-existent: While the current national unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent, the unemployment rate for U.S. citizens with Ph.D.s in STEM is just 3.15 percent and 3.4 percent for those with master’s degrees in STEM. Given that the U.S. government has defined “full-employment” to be 4 percent, this suggests a skills shortage of STEM professionals with advanced degrees.

STEM fields employ a far higher proportion of foreign workers than non-STEM fields: In STEM fields, 26.1 percent of workers with Ph.D.s are foreign born, as are 17.7 percent of workers with master’s degrees. In comparison, in non-STEM fields, just 6.4 percent of doctoral workers and 5.2 percent of master’s workers are foreign born.

STEM fields with high percentages of foreign STEM workers have low unemployment rates for U.S. workers: Although nearly 25 percent of medical scientists are foreign born, U.S. medical scientists enjoy an unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent, fully five percentage points lower than the non-STEM unemployment rate (8.4 percent).

Similar stories exist for STEM occupations such as physical scientists and computer software designers, where immigrants make up more than 20 percent of the field and unemployment is just 4 percent. Unemployment across all STEM occupations is just 4.3 percent, and the unemployment rate is actually lower than that average in 10 of the 11 STEM occupations with the largest proportion of foreign workers, the statement said.

Foreign-born STEM workers are paid on par with U.S. STEM workers; there is no verifiable evidence that foreign-born STEM workers adversely affect the wages of American workers by providing a less expensive source of labor. The average STEM worker actually makes slightly more than his or her U.S. counterpart, earning on average $61 more per week, the statement said.

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Submitted by the Offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch

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1 Comment

  • BIG GUY March 20, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I am a supporter of more liberal immigration laws for all who would like to become citizens but I’m especially in favor of significantly increased immigration opportunities for highly skilled workers. It’s madness to invite foreigners to attend our universities, the best in the world, and then force those who would like to stay and contribute to our country’s economy to return home and compete against us.

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