Jobs for U.S. programmers evaporate

During the presidential debates G.W. Bush held out the promise of community
college education for those who had lost jobs to foreign competition.
Remedies of this kind have long been preferred by American politicians and
businessmen, mainly because it places responsibility for economic pain on individuals,
(the victims) and deflects attention from more basic structural causes. Just upgrade
your skills, folks. Maybe become a computer programer rather than a factory
worker and you'll be fine. What such arguments overlook, of course, is that
the competition U.S. workers now face extends to job categories across a broad
spectrum, including what are often taken to be fairly sophisticated technical

Here's a story, "Endangered Species," by David Francis of the Christian Science
Monitor about the jobs in question.

"Say goodbye to the American software programmer. Once the symbols of hope
as the nation shifted from manufacturing to service jobs, programmers today
are an endangered species. They face a challenge similar to that which shrank
the ranks of steelworkers and autoworkers a quarter century ago: competition
from foreigners. ....

"Since the dotcom bust in 2000-2001, nearly a quarter of California technology
workers have taken nontech jobs, according to a study of 1 million workers
released last week by Sphere Institute, a San Francisco Bay Area public policy
group. The jobs they took often paid less. Software workers were hit especially
hard. Another 28% have dropped off California's job rolls altogether. They fled
the state, became unemployed, or decided on self-employment. ....

"Although computer-related jobs in the United States increased by 27,000 between
2001 and 2003, about 180,000 new foreign H-1B workers in the computer
area entered the nation, calculates John Miano, an expert with the Programmers
Guild, a professional society. "This suggests any gain of jobs have been taken by
H-1B workers," he says.

"H-1B visas allow skilled foreigners to live and work in the US for up to six
years. Many are able to get green cards in a first step to citizenship. Another visa,
L-1, allows multinational companies to transfer workers from foreign operations
into the US. ....

"H-1B and L-1 visas are "American worker replacement programs," says the
National Hire American Citizens Society."