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High Tech Layoffs In The Bay Area

Harry Brill
Friday March 31, 2017 - 02:45:00 PM

Because of a dip in the Bay Area economy, both generally speaking and in the high tech industry, job losses in 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. 

Just in February, high tech companies slashed 2,700 jobs. In addition, many Americans who have high tech jobs are being replaced by foreign workers. The federal H-1B visa program imports 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 high tech 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 the availability of skilled workers. The high tech industry insisted that there was a serious shortage of qualified American high-tech employees. But qualified high-tech workers were never in short supply, and it is certainly 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. Foreign labor is a lot cheaper. 

One observer commented that the low wage employment train continues to chug along. Meanwhile, American tech workers are living in a hope and pray environment. What then should be done to nurture the economy and protect American workers? Many steps have to be taken to boost the income of working people, which in turn would increase consumer spending and create jobs. The H1-B program, which is justified by employers on fictitious grounds, should be scrapped. This would not affect the total number of jobs lost. But it would certainly reduce the unemployment of domestic high tech workers.