Again, during the CNN Republican National Security Debate, the issue of immigration came up.
Again we were given the standard Sop Line that “America Needs easy visa access for foreigners with math and science degrees” because we just don’t have enough brains or enough educated folks in those areas.
We’re up to our eyeballs in folks with degrees in math and science. I know many of them who are out of work. Often put out of work by CHEAP immigrants on H1B visas. (I’ve been in competition with such folks in many interviews). I have nothing against them. They are often fairly bright folks with decent skills. However, the notion that we NEED Them to be competitive is bogus. We need them to be CHEAP. Often a new guy off the boat from India will work for less than a secretary costs, often about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a home grown graduate. It’s simply a desire to import cheap labor, not a need to get a degree that is unavailable in the USA.
What does this do? It discourages Americans from entering that field and getting that degree. It reduces the domestic supply. It puts Americans out of work. How do I know this? It put me out of work on several occasions. (No, I didn’t complain or file a grievance or do much of anything other than move on to the next gig. I’m open to competition.) I then, when counseling my son on career futures, told my son to avoid going into computer science. He had Honors Math and a straight A average. I talked him OUT of going into Math or Science as the field had no money left in it. He now has a business degree, marketing major. That is how a market works. Cut the price, you get lower supply.
But is there any other evidence beyond anecdotal that we have plenty of math and science majors?
The BLS says that we have, as of 2008 employed AS mathematicians, 2,900 people. (More are employed in related areas, such as science teachers where there are, per BLS, 54,000 employed as “mathematical science teachers”)
Mathematicians held about 2,900 jobs in 2008. Many people with mathematical backgrounds also worked in other occupations. For example, there were about 54,800 jobs for postsecondary mathematical science teachers in 2008.
And how about that crying need for math majors in industry? What is the industry that needs all these mathematicians?
Many mathematicians work for the Federal Government, primarily in the U.S. Department of Defense which accounts for about 81 percent of the mathematicians employed by the Federal Government. Many of the other mathematicians employed by the Federal Government work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In the private sector, major employers include scientific research and development services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services. Some mathematicians also work for insurance carriers.
Ah, the government…
Ok, the demand is a total of 2,900 as mathematicians and another 54,000 as teachers in related areas (plus some odd others doing semi-math related jobs as a general sciency sort of degree).
So how many does the US Education System “mint” in any one year? IF the typical career is, say 35 years (25 to get graduated, 35 to work, retire at 60 on average – allowing for some attrition) we would need at least 2900 / 35 ~= 83 per year with good Ph.Ds and at least 54,000 / 35 ~= 1543 “masters or better” per year.
How many do we “mint”?
Total students in a Math major at Ph.D. granting institutions in 2009 (given in thousands in the link, I’m adding the 3 zeros here):
Computer Sciences 29,200
Science and Engineering combined 360,600
Hmmm…. Need under 2000. Have over 10 x that many in school at any one time. Looks like a surplus to me…
Now we do have to allow that 8,000 of the 18,000 Math students and 120,000 of the Science and Engineering students are “foreign” (which just makes me wonder why I’m paying a boat load of taxes to educate the rest of the world…) so “only” about 2/3 of those students are US Students. Still way more than we “need”…
Sidebar on University Goodies
FWIW, the link also includes an interesting chart of “Federal Obligations” for R&D money to various schools. You can see who’s first at the Hog Trough and who doesn’t know how to squeal with the best of them… It’s listed in “Millions of $$$” so the total of 24,991.8 translates to about $25 BILLION dollars in “gifts to friends”… Who wins the “Most Slop” award?
Johns Hopkins at $1,153,200,000 ( Yes, over $1 BILLION… That was in 2006, the first column, the chart has 2007 in a second column)
Next closest is
University of Washington at a measly $612,100,000
My Alma Mater gets a lowly $236,400,000 (more than Berkeley at $228,600,000 and Irvine is a distant third at $161,300,000) but if you add up all three of those U.C. campuses its $626,300,000 and beats out Stanford at $445,900,000. One is left to wonder if the other UC campuses get largess as well (as the chart is labeled “Top 40”) and if the total ‘take’ of the UC system makes it over the $1 Billion mark…
My golly that’s a lot of US Dollars going to places educating a lot of non-US citizens… and we do this because?… Oh, yeah, ‘prestige’ and the desire for the universities to do “research” for which they get to keep the patents that might, somehow, maybe, help the society at large?
But still, that’s a heck of a lot of money. And it is VERY asymmetrically distributed. U. of Virginia got “only” $176,300,000 in the 40th slot. So about a 10:1 ratio between the #1 slot and down near the 50th slot (assuming the drop continues).
Somehow I’m guessing that a lot of this money comes from senators who are “representing” their states well… I think I’m seeing something that can be cut from the Federal Budget here…
Back At Math Majors
What does that BLM site say about Math Majors job prospects?
Job prospects. Job competition will remain keen because employment in this occupation is relatively small and few new jobs are expected. Ph.D. holders with a strong background in mathematics and a related discipline, such as engineering or computer science, and who apply mathematical theory to real-world problems will have the best job prospects in related occupations. In addition, mathematicians with experience in computer programming will better their job prospects in many occupations.
Holders of a master’s degree in mathematics will face very strong competition for jobs in theoretical research. Because the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded in mathematics continues to exceed the number of available university positions—especially tenure-track positions—many graduates will need to find employment in industry and government.
Oh. We’ve got too many already. We’re making more of them “like crazy”. We don’t expect job opportunities to grow “few new jobs”; and the best bet is to get a double major and go into a ‘related field’…
But what about Engineers?
Surely the prospects for Engineers are better than for those pointy headed math geeks? After all, Engineers make products that get sold and make things go…
From the BLS site again:
The continued globalization of engineering work will likely dampen domestic employment growth to some degree. There are many well-trained, often English-speaking, engineers available around the world who are willing to work at much lower salaries than U.S. engineers. The rise of the Internet has made it relatively easy for part of the engineering work previously done by engineers in this country to be done by engineers in other countries, a factor that will tend to hold down employment growth. Even so, there will always be a need for onsite engineers to interact with other employees and clients.
Oh… So “give it up” if you want to make any decent money other than as a “sales guy’s brain”, or as a local manager of a remote site to translate between your management and the foreigners.
Yup, that’s what I’ve seen “on the ground” and “in the field”… So they want more H1B visas to be able to bring the foreigners in and replace what few folks here have to be paid American Wages…
It goes on to break it out by field, with some like Electrical and Electronics Engineers having a 1% growth rate projection between 2008 and 2018, while the highest growth rates are projected to be in Biomedical 72% (all those prosthetic limbs from all those wars?), Environmental Engineers at 31% and Civil Engineers at 24%. (Eight categories are single digit growth and one is -2% for Chemical Engineers as all the chemical producers run overseas away from the US Regulatory environment)
So, about all those math and electrical engineers we’re supposed to need?
OK, the total Engineering students we have is 136,000 (call it about 1/4 graduating per year, so about 30,000 / year allowing for some attrition). But we have to add in the folks who are counted as employed in “engineering” but in education counted as a different bucket. Computer Science gets another 45,600 and Environmental Science gets 13,900 (those ‘Environmental Engineers’). Total that up you get 195,500. Even that does not include the folks, like me, with other degrees that end up working as Engineers. (For me it’s an Econ degree and a Computer Software job history)… Do divide that by 4, you get about 48,875 graduated per year. Then with a 40 year job span (need fewer Ph.Ds and more Bachelors engineers than mathematicians) and 1,571,900 employed it is about 39,297 per year that you need. Hmmm… Looks to me like about a 10,000 / year “over supply”… (Roughly 24% “overage” so I sure hope a lot of those foreign students go home for a job or we’re looking at a real wage collapse here…)
OK, I think I’ve illustrated the point enough. There is NO shortage of intelligent, well educated AMERICAN students to work in American jobs. There is only a shortage of dirt cheap FOREIGN Visa Holders willing to work at any wage as long as they can get that magic ticket into the USA. Oh, and some significant number of them will be on ‘student visas’ from Muslim countries dominated by Sharia and Fundamentalism and here to gain residence so they can form sleeper cells. Don’t think so? Well, it already happened…
Six months after Sept. 11, hijackers’ visa approval letters received
March 12, 2002|By Mark Potter and Rich Phillips CNN Miami Bureau
Six months to the day after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Immigration and Naturalization Service notified a Venice, Florida, flight school that the two men had been approved for student visas.
Rudi Dekkers of Huffman Aviation, where Atta, 33, and Al-Shehhi, 23, first trained in July 2000, showed the yellow INS forms to CNN during an interview Monday. Dekkers said he was surprised to get the forms at such a late date.
But hey, what’s a little thing like the loss of 3,000 lives when corporate profits from low wage foreign labor is involved…
There is NO need what so ever for any enhanced visa program for workers with technical degrees. We’re already oversupplied with education for those jobs (why are no American Students getting those slots that are going to foreigners? Hmmm? I know a lot of smart kids with good grades who had to fight their way into some kind of acceptance at a US school. Don’t tell me we don’t have the talent, we do. I know those kids). Even at that, we are producing way more math and significantly more engineering degrees than we need. So much so that I know folks who are telling their kids not to waste their time on just such a degree (i.e. me, for one, and computer science in particular for my kid).
The only reason we “need” H1B visas, especially with unemployment at 20+% for young kids and 9% overall, is to let corporations keep their costs down. It’s a political sop to wealthy contributors, nothing more.
So please, can we get back to the notion that American Public Schools are for training American kids for American jobs? The foreigners have their own countries (with their own taxes and their own schools and payrolls) and we don’t need to be giving them an express pass ahead of our own kids either for seats in school or for jobs after that.