Business Group Complains Trump’s H-1B Reform Is Boosting U.S. Graduates

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If President Donald Trump can push his H-1B reforms into 2021, he will dramatically increase the marketplace power of U.S. college graduates, complains a top manager at the Fortune 500 business group the Conference Board.

“If the [H-1B] suspension continues beyond 2020, recruiting high-quality tech workers could become much more difficult,” wrote Gad Levanon, who heads the group’s Labor Market Institute that has repeatedly recognized that a smaller supply of workers tends to raise wages and salaries. 

Under Forbes‘ headline, “Tech Workers Were Already Hard To Find. The H-1B Visa Suspension Just Made Recruiting Them Even Harder,” Levanon wrote:

Hundreds of thousands of foreigners will no longer be able to attain work in the U.S. as a result.

This halt will deal a one-two punch to employers of computer-related occupations, which includes jobs such as software developers and computer systems analysts. First, people in this field receive the overwhelming majority of H-1B visas. Out of the nearly 400,000 H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2019, about two-thirds were in that line of work. Most went to software developers.

Second, computer-related workers are the one group for which the labor market will soon become tight again. When that happens, new foreign workers may be sorely missed.

Computer experts are “likely to regain their hot commodity status in the next year or two,” he wrote.

Levanon’s Jue 26 warnings are good news for Americans, said Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Tech Workers. “I would do a jig,” because Levanan is admitting that Trump’s reforms are helping American professionals, he said.

Trump announced the reforms on June 22. His Executive Order blocks the arrival of new H-1Bs this year and ordered a new regulation that would bar CEOs from using the H-1B pipeline to import cheap labor. Currently, 600,000 H-1Bs — and at least 700,000 other visa workers — are used to displace skilled American graduates, to lower career salaries, and to spike stock prices.

But a shortage of foreign workers also would be good for companies because it will shift CEOs’ focus from cost-cutting to quality improvements, Lynn said, adding:

They are now engaged in a race to the bottom, and at the bottom is the end of innovation for America. This [reform] will enable them to pull out of that nosedive, and to put quality first ….  [and] they will get productivity, and so they’ll win because their business will be live longer.

They don’t understand this because they are trying to maximize quarterly profits, trying to appeal [to Wall] Street that loves to see employers cut headcounts, to slash wages …  instead of raising productivity so stocks can rise because they are building better, more innovative products.

U.S. graduates helped Trump deliver the reforms, Lynn said, and now they need to help Trump to preserve and push the reforms:

We know that Trump is under immense pressure to make all kinds of exceptions that would water his [June 22] Executive Order down to meaninglessness.

The next step is up to the productive class. We need to be bombarding the White House with ‘Thank You’ cards,  with Tweets, with emails, for what he has done because this is a first. This is the first time we have gained ground from offshoring and outsourcing.

For the first time since the 1970s, immigration policy is being crafted to help Americans, not immigrants. We need to be thanking Trump, to build up his resolve against the Koch [brothers] wing of the White House and all of the corporations.

“What they want to do is ratchet wages so low that they are comparable to wages in India,” Lynn added.

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at


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