To the Editor…

by on March 31, 2017

Job Layoffs In The Bay Area

Because of a dip in the bay area economy, the last two months of job layoffs in the Bay Area, January and February, were substantial.  According to state data reported in the East Bay Times,  the southern portion of the Bay Area, Santa Clara County, shed 8,100 jobs in these two months.  Alameda and Contra Counties, which make up the East Bay, lost 5,600 jobs in January and February.  These losses total 13,700 jobs

According to the state report, the East Bay lost 1,200 hotel and restaurant jobs, 800 manufacturing jobs, and 800 white collar positions.  In Santa Clara County, there were substantial job losses in both the retail and wholesale industries. Also, 1,100 white collar workers lost their jobs, and 1,300 jobs in high tech companies were slashed.

In addition to the bay area’s economic problems,  American tech workers are being replaced by foreign job seekers. The federal H-1B visa program imports up to 85,000 skilled workers annually.  The cumulative result is that 75% of Silicon Valley employees are now foreign born, mainly on H1-B visas. So not surprisingly, the chances of finding full time jobs are dismal for American technical workers. Clearly, the H1-B visas are far more preferred by employers than proof of citizenship.

The rationale for legislating H-1B was to assure companies of skilled workers when there was a shortage of qualified American high-tech employees. But qualified high-tech workers were never in short supply, and certainly that is not the case now. Indeed, in many instances experienced employees are required to train their foreign replacements before they are laid off. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why these American workers are being replaced even in these very difficult times. Foreign labor is a lot cheaper.

One observer commented that the low wage employment train continues to chug along. Meanwhile, tech workers are living in a hope and pray environment. What, then, should be done about it? At the very least, the H1-B program, which is justified by employers on fictitious grounds, should be scrapped.  That would not affect the total number of jobs lost.  But it would certainly reduce the unemployment of American high tech workers.

Harry Brill

Filed under: Letters to the Editor