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Microsoft Businesses

Did Gates Fib About H1-B Salaries? 345

Posted by kdawson
from the little-white-ones dept.
netbuzz writes "While in Washington last year lobbying for higher H1-B visa limits, Bill Gates told David Broder of the Washington Post that Microsoft starts such workers at about $100,000. An analysis by one offshoring critic suggests that's not true. If his analysis is correct, it would undermine part of the case for lifting H1-B ceilings.
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Did Gates Fib About H1-B Salaries?

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  • by Scorchio (177053) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:45PM (#17937028)
    Yeah, an H1-B application includes a Labor Condition Application (LCA), part of which specifies that the salary that will be paid is at least the mean salary for one year of experience for the specific occupation and geographic location, at time of application. I didn't see any explanation of when or where these figures were from.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:46PM (#17937046)
    I am a Microsoft manager. The salaries paid for H1-B employees is exactly the same as those paid anyone else. It is not legal to do otherwise. For every H1-B employee I hire, I have to provide a salary comparison against non H1-B employees at that same skill/job level for the government that shows we are not underpaying the H1-B employees. The issue is absolutely finding enough qualified people for the jobs that are available. There are a number of reasons that jobs cannot be filled without the H1-B visas. These include people don't want to work for MS, don't want to relocate, don't like job, don't like salary, etc.

    Gates may not have the exact salary numbers (I'd say the average today is more like $90k base, definitely > $100k w/ bonus). The alternative (which is happening as well) is to hire the employees in their home countries and pay them 1/3 as much and not have that money returned to the local US economy.
  • by gogodoit (512826) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @01:58PM (#17937204) Homepage
    > Is it the mid-90s again? That's the only possibility if someone is making that much with only 2-4
    > years experience. And 100k+, even in an expensive city as Seattle, is still awesome money.

    Nope, it's 2007, 8 years later, with 8 years of inflation behind it. $100k/year is no longer special. At the same time, the 'Net is hot again, and people are hiring all over, which adds to wage hikes.

    Come on boys and girls, it's time to find a new job (if you're mobile, and not an H1-B that is)!

    Age discrimination is illegal, just as paying H1-B's less than the natives.

    If H1-B's were hired at market rate two years ago, and those rates went up, they're screwed. Assuming the average H1-B getting a greencard is paid $70k/year, those H1-Bs are paying $30k/year (minimum) to get the greencard. (100-70=30)

    That's a fricking expensive process!

    I love America! :)
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:09PM (#17937390)
    I personally know two developers, one in the Office group, another in Longhorn, both hired direct from College, both making more than $100K at Microsoft, both have been there less than 3 years.

    When a company is choosing to hire a developer out of tens of thousands of applicants PER MONTH, you think they might get someone good?

    You are wrong, deal with it.

  • by dsurber (53971) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:15PM (#17937492)
    It doesn't matter if Microsoft is paying H1B workers $100,000 a year.

    Economic growth since early 2000, when the Dow reached its previous peak, hasn't been exceptional. But after-tax corporate profits have more than doubled, because workers' productivity is up, but their wages aren't -- and because companies have dealt with rising health insurance premiums by denying insurance to ever more workers."
    --NY Times [nytimes.com]
    Compared to the cost of living and worker productivity, workers in the US have not benefited from from their own increases in productivity. "Between 1980 and 2004, real wages in manufacturing fell 1 percent, while the real income of the richest 1 percent -- people with incomes of more than $277,000 in 2004 -- rose 135 percent. --NY Times [nytimes.com] Microsoft may pay H1B workers $100,000 a year (or not) but even if they do, it is not a fair wage relative to the cost of living and the increase in worker productivity. There is no question that H1B workers hold down wage increases. If Microsoft and other tech companies increased wages, reduced demands for unpaid overtime, and attempted to retain workers older than 35, they wouldn't have any trouble hiring. Instead they import low wage workers and as a result hold down all wages increasing corporate profits at the expense of the workers.
  • H1-B person here.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by locokamil (850008) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:08PM (#17938164) Homepage
    Started with a major software company out of college, five months ago. Salary: $95000. No, I'm not a genius, and no I'm not an exception. Five CS people (out of 10) in my graudating class were hired at the same rate by comparable companies. And before you ask, the other five aren't unemployed: they're in grad school. Not because they couldn't find anything else, but because they wanted to go.

    My advice to unemployed US programmers: quit whining. If you aren't getting these jobs, you aren't qualified for them. Get your qualifications, get the experience, and compete with the best. It's what I had to do, and after watching the H1-B flamewar for the last five years, I still don't see why Americans think the global economy-- yes, it's global, accept it-- should go any easier on them than anyone else.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:4, Informative)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:12PM (#17938240) Homepage Journal
    "I have worked in a couple companies with H1-B employees.

    While those employees where good, they were not better skilled than the American programmers on staff. Not worse, but not better."

    I have to agree. I find their skills, and possibly this is due to the social environment they are raised in over there, are largely ok if you give them rote coding to do, with very explicit requirements and instructions.

    They just did not seem to do as well, on brainstorming, and being creative as the US citizens. And in many of the projects I've worked on...well, well set requirments and the like are hard to find. Most jobs I've been on, have been development, and you had to often make it up as you went due to deadlines and changing customer requests. I'm sure many of you out there have run into that scenario.

    Don't get me wrong...this isn't every H1-B type I've worked with, but, I have seen this as a very strong general trend in my experience working with this type worker.

    I think many an outsourcer has seen this come up as a problem when shipping things over to India...and then having to deal with it over phone/email. At least if you have a worker like this in your office, it makes communication a bit easier...but, even so, time explaining is time wasted. Something I've seen managers have to consider after they ran into this type of situation...

  • Gates and Salaries (Score:3, Informative)

    by Philodoxx (867034) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:21PM (#17938376)
    I'm a fresh university graduate working for a Seattle area software development company on a TN visa. My salary +signing bonus+stock options doesn't get me to $100k but it's close enough that I believe Gates. Considering that Microsoft is bringing in people with several years experience (and therefore paid more) under their belts that number could easily get to $100k.
  • by LowneWulf (210110) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:32PM (#17938552)
    I and other H-1B's get paid exactly the same, if not better, than my American citizen counterparts.

    While the base salary isn't breaking $100k a lot of the time, Microsoft gives everyone (H-1B or otherwise) a bucketload of benefits that would easily push the cost to MS well over $100k.

    Add into the mix the fact that Microsoft has to pay shiteloads of money for legal services, filing fees, premium processing, etc. just to keep us in the country, and you realize that it costs MS a decent amount more to keep H-1Bs in the country. Plus, the stupid Americans like to randomly tear up your visas from time to time if you come from a "suspicious" country, and let me tell you, those are expensive battles.
  • by melted (227442) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:05PM (#17939020) Homepage
    And here's how this works, folks. They go to Eastern Europe and elsewhere and hire cream of the crop to entry level positions. You see, Microsoft has a system of "levels" according to which salaries and benefits are allocated. Typical starting level is 59. You can hire an average US college grad to that level (good ones go to Google these days), or you can go to, say, Moscow and hire a highly qualified, top notch software engineer with a few years of experience who has no opportunity to interview with Google first and whose negotiation skills equate to those of a squirrel. Who would you rather hire for your $70K? And you can keep L59 foreigner at 59 for much longer than a native, because his H1B process will only _start_ a year after he begins his employment and will take a few years (6 years and counting for some folks), during which moves are risky.

    Now the thing is, both US college grad and experienced H1-B will be at the same starting level and will be paid the same wage. This DOES NOT mean they'll be doing the same job. There's a shortage of experienced folks, so the guy with experience will be doing things that require experience, when college grad will be doing something else. H1-B is therefore paid below the market wage for what he's doing (but not for his level). This, coupled with slower promotion rate puts him at a huge disadvantage. Given that promotion velocity is capped no matter how hard you bust your ass, you may never reach higher levels because you started lower and were promoted slower.

    This is fully within the constraints of law, and not everyone ends up like this. I was in this situation and so were many of my H1-B coworkers.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:06PM (#17940036) Homepage Journal
    No. You wasn't hired by Microsoft because the guy that interviewed you should not have been interviewing you.

    It's who they sent to campus- from that moment on I have not believed that Microsoft wants people who can make up their own algorithims.

    Where are all of these talented people then?

    The majority of them retrained to drive trucks after being evicted out of their homes in the .com crash.

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