Friday, June 2, 2006

The Tangle of Foreign Competition

Today it was announced that the jobless rate is the lowest in the U.S. in five years. Sitting at 4.6% it is less than the magic 5% rate which used to be considered full employment. In theory, industries everywhere should be scrambling to get workers, especially good ones. Many point to the continuing illegal immigration issue as a reason why traditionally low end salaries are not increasing. In my field, there is a similar debate about H1-B class visas.

Whatever side you fall on in the continuing push and pull of employer vs. worker, you can not hide from the fact that unemployment in the high tech sectors remains higher than that of the general population. Yet somehow companies continue to protest that the U.S. isn't producing enough skilled workers to meet their needs. Meanwhile, the stigma of outsourcing and the general (and not incorrect) notion that computer science studies require one to sacrifice social activities and are generally "nerdy" has depressed the number of students enrolling in the program.

The long term results remain to be seen. As for me, I'd just like salaries to take a sudden spike upward. Or perhaps companies suddenly realizing that good people can be trained easily instead of expecting them to know the specific set of tools and technologies they want them to use.

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