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Saturday
Feb042012

What happens when you get all your information about employment and job creation from employers?  Cluelessness.

US employers consistently complain that they can't fill job openings in the US because there are not enough qualified American applicants. Therefore, they say, government policy needs to focus on increasing government spending on education, especially in science, technology, engineering and math ("STEM"), and on reducing or eliminating barriers to bringing in foreign guest workers on H-1b and L-1 visas. In H-1b, the "Outsourcing Visa" I reported on two different studies that showed there is no relevant labor market test for the issuance of these visas and that employers can and do bypass American workers for cheaper guest workers. There are about 1 million workers in H-1b and L-1 visa jobs at any one time and about 1 million more have been here for training on those visas and then gone home taking the jobs with them. President Obama seems to know nothing about this, according to a McClatchy-Tribune News Service report on his live video chat with citizens last Monday.

Jennifer Wedel was one of five people selected to take part in a live video chat Monday with the president through the "hangout" feature on Google Plus, the search engine's social-networking site.

Wedel asked why U.S. companies were allowed to use a controversial program to hire high-skilled foreign workers when her husband, Darin, has similar skills and can't find full-time work. Darin Wedel lost his job at Texas Instruments about three years ago.

. . . .

"My question to you is to why does the government continue to issue and extend H-1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?" she asked.

Obama offered that industry leaders have told him that there aren't enough of certain kinds of high-tech engineers in America to meet their needs. Jennifer Wedel interrupted him to explain that that answer didn't match what her husband is seeing out in the real world.

"Jennifer, can I ask what kind of engineer your husband is?"

"He's a semiconductor engineer," she told the president, who seemed genuinely surprised.

"If you send me your husband's resume, I'd be interested in finding out exactly what's happening right there," he told her. "The word we're getting is somebody in that high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away. And the H-1B should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field."

Near the end of the online event, Obama reminded Wedel about his request.

"I mean what I said. If you send me your husband's resume, I'd be interested in finding out what's happening," Obama told her and thousands of others watching.

Hat tip BuzzFlash.  I have written about this problem on other occasions too, in Down with Globalization and in Skilled labor shortages in declining industries accelerate the decline. Shouldn't President Obama already have heard about this well-documented and important non-employer view, say from the Secretary of Labor?  He's certainly not hearing it from his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness headed by GE's CEO and other prominent outsourcers. Obama names fox to head advisory panel on hen house security.

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