The NY Times ran an article the other day, comparing various U.S. metro areas by the number of high-tech jobs that they offer. Turns out that New York is number one in the nation and Silicon Valley is number... five... To be honest, I don't really know the high-tech market in New York, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is something fishy about the count.
Never mind that, what I really wanted to write about is the section in the article that deals with the fact that the U.S. may be losing its high-tech edge due to the very tough restrictions on getting H1B visas that allow foreign citizens to come and work in the U.S. and student visas that allow some of the best and brightest from around the globe to come here and join the U.S. economy.
I can absolutely, positively, and from personal experience tell you that this is exactly right. Let me share this example with you. My company has been desperately searching for engineers with some unique talents. We require these individuals to complete the development of our product, after a key person left our company to launch his own start-up. Money is not an issue - we are willing to offer extremely good pay for the right individuals, it's just that these folks are very specialized and very tough to lure away once you do find them. For months, we have been unable to find these key engineers in the U.S. We have found a number of them internationally, but have been unable to offer them a job in this country because of visa restrictions. So what do you think we are planning to do? In a few weeks I will be traveling to Israel to interview some key personnel. We are seriously considering opening up a development center in that country.
Now, if anybody can explain to me how forcing us to open a development center overseas helps the U.S. economy, I will be much obliged. We would like to hire American, but can't. We would like to hire international professionals to join our office in California, but are prohibited by law. The U.S. government is basically forcing our hand - it is making us relocate some of our business overseas. This is not some hypothetical story about some company I heard of. This is a decision that my CEO and I have been struggling with for months.
In my mind, this is a clear case of Washington idiocy, that in the name of saving American jobs is costing American jobs, big time. How does this help anybody?