The Wages of Skilled Temporary Migrants: Effects of Job Portability and Student Status

Lindsay Lowell, Georgetown University
Johanna Schneider, Georgetown University and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

More highly skilled "temporary" migrants are admitted yearly to the U.S.A. than skilled permanent immigrants. This phenomenon is relatively new and there is little empirical research with credible data that establishes the relative earnings or impact of skilled temporary workers. We use the NSF's National Survey of College Graduates which asks visa questions and follows up the college-educated population enumerated in the 2000 Census. We frame the competing expectations on temporary worker earnings: prevailing wage equality, lower reservation wages, segmented markets, visa-job portability, and visa pathways. The findings indicate that visa-job portability and visa pathways (student to worker) significantly reduce the earnings of temporary foreign workers relative to U.S. college-educated natives. Further, tests of the impacts of temporary workers appear to indicate that they adversely impact wages and unemployment. While large scale temporary programs may have certain benefits, they have not been well managed to date.

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Presented in Session 138: Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force