Correcting Some Misconceptions Concerning H-2B Wages

Jan 16, 2011

Ross Eisenbrey’s recent blog post included several misconceptions about the H-2B program that may be responsible for his erroneous conclusions about the H-2B program and U.S. Chamber's position on immigration.

He states that the Bush Administration changed the way prevailing wages were calculated, in order to lower required wage levels for immigration sponsorship. In fact, back in 1998, under a Democratic administration, it was Congress that required the Department of Labor to adopt the current wage calculation methodology, pursuant to the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act, in a congressionally mandated effort to improve and make more accurate the wage data the Department and sponsoring employers were required to use in certain immigration sponsorship programs. Subsequently, in 2008, DOL promulgated regulations establishing that this wage methodology would be the basis of controlling wages for the H-2B program. The wages in the H-2B program are calculated the same way they are in the Department's Permanent (Green Card) program, according to skill level.

Eisenbrey, also incorrectly, implies that employers are underpaying H-2B workers. However, it is the Department of Labor--not employers--that determines the wages and terms and conditions of employment for H-2B workers do not have a negative impact to the labor market. A rigorous economic study of the H-2B program conducted last year demonstrates that industries with H-2B workers actually have higher wage growth and job creation than the economy as a whole.

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