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Foreign guest workers in U.S. found to earn less than others in same job

Guest workers in United States earn less than the average U.S. wage for the same job, and there’s little evidence of a labor shortage in the fields where they are employed, a study contends.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said most temporary foreign workers allowed into the country under the H2-B visa program end up working for less pay than what similar employees across the country earn.

The author of the study, Daniel Costa, said labor shortages might exist in some cities, towns or states. But stagnant wages and elevated unemployment in the industries that most rely on H2-B workers shed doubt on claims by business groups that there are labor shortages nationally.

Foreigners allowed into the U.S. under the H2-B program tend to be less educated, working in fields such as landscaping, house cleaning, forestry and construction. Some 68,000 H2-B visas are granted each year, mainly at the behest of companies that claim they cannot find domestic workers to fill the positions.

Congress fashions the H2-B program based largely on complaints from business, and intense efforts have been mustered to boost the number of these controversial visas. Yet as the EPI points out, there are few studies available that really examine whether labor shortages exist, and if so, to what extent.

Labor shortages typically occur in jobs where employment is rapidly growing. The strong pace of hiring, in turn, boosts inflation-adjusted wages and sharply lowers the unemployment rate for that occupation.

The EPI examined wages and employment of H2-B workers from 2004 to 2014. How do the 15 sectors with the highest numbers of H2-B workers stack up?

What the think tank found is that only five of the top 15 types of jobs held by H2-B applicants have seen an increase in inflation-adjusted wages, and in most cases just barely so.

What’s more, all 15 sectors had higher unemployment rates than the national average. And fewer than half of the occupations have experienced faster hiring than the U.S. average.

By law, the government is only supposed to grant H-2B visas if “unemployed persons capable of performing such service or labor cannot be found in this country.”

The evidence, Costa, asserted, indicates that’s seldom the case.

The fact that wages were stagnant or declined, combined with persistently high unemployment rates, makes it highly unlikely that labor shortages exist at the national level in any of the top H-2B occupations,” he wrote.

Fonte: marketwatch.com - 20.01.2016

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