Former Biden Adviser Agrees There is No Evidence of a Tech Worker Shortage

Jared Bernstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the former Chief Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, told an audience at the Brookings Institution that there is no proof of a shortage of workers with high tech skills. “Show me the data,” he challenged industry officials.

Bernstein made these assertions during a Brookings sponsored debate with Vivek Wadhwa, a columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek and former IT executive.  Mr. Wadhwa, argued in favor of allowing STEM employers to have unlimited access to foreign workers, with no regard for the qualified native workers who are being passed over for jobs.  He is part of well-funded effort by the tech industry, which is very good as creating a vast echo chamber that reverberates with the call for more foreign workers.

But what Mr. Wadhwa cannot get around is the glaring fact that there is no shortage of qualified tech workers in the United States. Nor can they disguise the fact that the H-1B program is not bringing in the “best and brightest” from around the world.  As FAIR points out, a foreign guest worker may be qualified to fill STEM jobs, but so too are many native workers who currently are either unemployed or underemployed.  Furthermore, skilled guest workers programs are pushing American graduates into other fields, creating an “internal brain drain.”

Mr. Bernstein did a great job articulating what is wrong with the H-1B (and L-1) programs, and pointing out the fundamental flaws in U.S. immigration policy overall.  Any candid observer who witnessed the discussion between the two men would have to say that Mr. Bernstein carried the day (it wasn’t even close), even if one disagreed with his conclusions.  Mr. Bernstein displayed an understanding of the topic at hand and an appreciation for the difficulty of formulating immigration policy to best serve the needs of the American people. He was exceedingly gracious in the face of Mr. Wadhwa’s constant interruptions and insults.

For his part, Mr. Wadhwa insisted that employers claiming a labor shortage should be taken at their word and that evidence presented to the contrary should be dismissed as the work of “academic nut jobs.” He further claimed that any attempt to protect the interest of American workers is tantamount to communism; that California should be able to set its own immigration policy; and that critics of the H-1B program are anti-immigrant Nazis who routinely make threats upon his life.  I assure you this is not a caricature of Mr. Wadwha’s performance, you can watch the video here (choose Panel 1 from the sidebar).

Mr. Wadwha is one of the leading “experts” promoting the interests of tech firms that clamor for greater access to foreign labor; and he illustrates perfectly the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of those who argue that position.

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  1. avatar
    joel wischkaemper on

    We have the best and most extensive network for education in the world. Nobody does it better in fact. We have an education department that has a huge net on the U.S. work scene and it advises those educational institutions where to go and what to do with their educational processes,

    So now we are being told our educational system is second rank and the Department of Education is not working? This business has to get straight as an arrow and very, very fast. We need heads rolling, and we need to supply our own needs, and we need to find ways to supply third world countries their needs.

    What we do NOT want to do is steal deep tech workers from those countries that need them to come forward and become partners in trade and relations. NOT! (I think this one will really confuse congress.)

  2. avatar

    Biden is as dumb as a box of rocks. Thank God he thinks he ‘s talking in a vacuum the Moron. And Lamar Smith best not rap his head around the STEM visa crap, as there is no shortage of Americans to do these jobs.

  3. avatar

    As a retired IT Prof. I could tell you that. The reason H1B’s are so popular is that they work for a hell of a lot less. American IT people are better, and it’s time we take care of our own.

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  6. avatar

    Wadwha is probably working with lobbyist-Governor Jindal as well-paid agents of the Indian government who want to flood the U.S. with more Indian white collar workers and their families.

  7. avatar

    Thank you, Eric for this report. I got up very early in California to watch the Brookings presentation live until a few minutes after the moderator of the second session noted that Microsoft hired the greatest number of H-1B Visa holders, but did not provide the bloated numbers.

    I have been posting in many websites throughout the day. I believe there is unethical conduct on the part of industry, as Eric noted above in regard to Vivek Wadhwa’s comments. The report is incredibly one-sided. It has the gall to label Stuart Anderson as a “scholar” while in reality the industry funds Stuart’s claims. Near the beginning of the lengthy report, Professor Norm Matloff is mentioned as a researcher who objects to the H-1B Visa program, but a link to Matloff’s website is not provided, while citations are provided to a variety of employer-interest “studies.” No mention is made of “cheap labor,” “employment age discrimination,” (Wadhwa’s website mentions it here: – use the search bar at the bottom of Wadhwa’s website to locate MANY more references,) “historically unprecedented internal brain drain,” or “waste of talent.”

    I have uncovered the wages of a poorly paid H-1B researcher at Brookings Institution that started in FY 2009. Their job title is “SOCIAL SCIENCE RESERCHER” (sic) and their compensation was $41,538/year in the very expensive Washington, DC area. I believe that this immigrant is one of the authors of the report, illustrating the nature of the indentured servitude of the H-1B Visa program, since only the Brookings Institution may sponsor this immigrant for permanent residency.

    I also have identified the large amount of grant support (over $2.4 million) via the Gates Foundation website to the Brookings Institution between 2009-2011. I believe this grant support is connected with the creative way that the report minimizes Microsoft’s use of H-1Bs (Average of 4,109 over 2 years instead of the over 35,000H-1Bs authorized to work at Microsoft between 2001-2010 (and many more before 2001.))
    Notice that no one at the Brookings talk discussed the massive job cuts (30K+) announced by HP on 16 July 2012? See HP hires huge numbers of H-1Bs directly and via 3rd parties such as Tata, Infosys, Wipro, etc.

    Thanks again for your excellent reporting, Eric.