Report Debunks Myth that High-Skilled Immigrants Steal American Jobs

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The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) recently released a report claiming that native-born workers with science and engineering (S&E) degrees are being driven into jobs outside of their field due to competition from foreign-born workers willing to accept lower wages.

The report misses a key factor: a growing number of jobs outside of the field of science and engineering now require or reward those skills. In other words, native-born workers with science and engineering degrees aren’t being driven out of these occupations by immigrants; they are being lured into other occupations where their skills are in high demand and command higher salaries.

These are the findings of a report released last month by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The report, entited STEM, presents a comprehensive analysis of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) occupations in the United States. According to the report: “High and rising wage premiums are being paid to STEM workers in spite of the increasing global supply. This suggests that the demand for these workers is not being met.”

Moreover, this demand is not only coming from industries that traditionally hire STEM workers. It’s coming from industries like professional and business services, healthcare services, advanced manufacturing, mining, and utilities and transportation. Employers in these industries are willing to pay top dollar for workers with STEM backgrounds, which has the effect of “diverting” many STEM graduates into non-traditional career paths.

According to the Georgetown report, native-born STEM graduates are the most likely to be “diverted” into non-traditional career paths for a variety of economic, social, and cultural reasons. And this “diversion” of native-born STEM graduates “will continue and likely accelerate in the future.” As a result, there is likely to be “an increasing reliance on foreign-born STEM talent among American employers.” But this is a reflection of high labor demand, not low demand, as FAIR would have us believe.