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Study: H-1B Visa Limits Cost Jobs For U.S.-born Workers

It may sound counter-intuitive, but a UC-Davis professor says it’s true.



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As fast as Houston’s economy is growing, a new report suggests it could grow even faster, if the annual cap on H-1B visas were increased.

The research, presented in a report from The Partnership for a New American Economy, found current limits on hiring tech workers from other countries is causing U.S.-born workers to miss out on jobs.

“What we observed is that companies who cannot fill their positions with foreign workers, simply slows down the growth of their employment,” said Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California-Davis. 

Peri’s research found H-1B visa denials in 2007 and 2008 resulted in about 3,900 fewer jobs in the three years that followed for U-S born workers in Houston.  That’s because without the added productivity from the specialized foreign workers, companies couldn’t add as many jobs for everyone else.

“This type of analysis shows also that there are not easily very available American workers who would do the same thing. Otherwise, these companies would revert to hiring American workers, who would do similar thing, and they would continue (to) grow,” Peri said.

Peri’s research has been picked up by The Partnership for a New American Economy.  That’s a group of former mayors and current business owners pushing for immigration reform.  The group wants Congress to increase its annual cap on H-1B visas given through an annual lottery from 65,000 to nearly twice that.  Peri says raising the cap could bring the jobs not created from several thousand down to a few hundred.

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David Pitman

David Pitman

Host & Announcer

David was HPM's local Morning Edition host from 2009 to 2020 — when he was moved to the position of Technical Director of Houston Matters with Craig Cohen, and Town Square with Ernie Manouse. David has extensive public and commercial broadcast journalism and production experience dating back to 1993 –...

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