With Such High Unemployment, Should the Foreign Worker Program End?

BY Paul Solman  October 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT

Paul Solman answers questions from NewsHour viewers and web users on business and economic news every day on his Making Sense page. Here’s Tuesday’s query:

Making SenseName: John Carter

Question: Given current employment, why is there still an H1-B program at this time? I am an engineer whom has been displaced by this program and hence am experiencing hard economic times. If this program is terminated I do feel there maybe employment for a lot of Americans who have been displaced by this program.

Paul Solman: Yes, the argument against H1-B visas, which allow skilled non-Americans to stay in the country and work, would seem to be stronger than ever these days.

The argument in favor has long held sway: isn’t America better off welcoming, instead of just the hungry and poor, the well-fed and talent-rich? The unhuddled PhD’s also yearning to breathe free?

But this is an era of 99ers and double-digit unemployment, when you count those who haven’t looked for work in the last week. The number is close to 20 percent if you add in those who haven’t looked in a year, plus the UNDERemployed. In such an environment, no wonder we get emails like John Carter’s. He is not alone.

This entry is cross-posted from the NewsHour’s Making Sen$e page, where business and economics correspondent Paul Solman answers your questions on economic news. Follow Paul on Twitter.