What Amazon, Google H-1B Workers Earn Over the Prevailing Wage

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is arguing that the “prevailing wage” for H-1B workers has been set far too low, allowing companies to use the visa to replace domestic technologists.

That argument comes as part of the DOL’s sweeping attempt to redefine the parameters and salary of the H-1B visa. This Interim Final Rule, which may go into effect within weeks, will require H-1B applicants to have a college degree in their actual field, shorten the visa lengths for certain kinds of contract workers, and boost the salaries that employers must pay their H-1B workers. 

The DOL broke down what some of the largest corporate users of the H-1B program pay visa applicants, and then compared that to the prevailing wage rates for H-1B workers. Here’s that chart; as you can see, some firms (such as Amazon and Google) pay significantly above the prevailing wage, while others (such as Oracle) are almost level:

“If the Department’s current prevailing wage levels accurately reflected earnings for similarly employed U.S. workers,” the DOL wrote, “then these major differences between actual wages paid to some H-1B workers and the otherwise applicable prevailing wage levels would not be as common.”

If the wages are well about the prevailing wages, according to the DOL’s logic, then the latter is too low, and “thus can be abused by other firms to replace U.S. workers with lower-wage foreign workers in cases where those firms do not have similarly employed workers on their jobsites whose actual wages would be used to set the wage for H-1B workers.”

As you might expect, though, not everyone agrees with the DOL’s decision to radically retool the H-1B visa. In a column in Forbes, Stuart Anderson, the executive director for the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), suggests that the Interim Final Rule is basing its arguments off outdated statistics, especially with regard to the unemployment rate.

In essence, Anderson argues that the true unemployment rate among technologists is too low to justify such sweeping reforms, especially if the DOL is basing those changes on the assumption that domestic technologists can’t find jobs. To support that argument, he quotes an NFAP report: “The 4.6% unemployment rate in those occupations has been exceeded in 51 individual months… and the Department of Labor never previously cited it as a reason to issue a regulation to change H-1B prevailing wage rates, including immediately as an interim final rule.” 

Meanwhile, an opinion piece by Nolan Rappaport in The Hill argues that raising the prevailing wage for H-1B visas is the only way to prevent general suppression of salaries for everyone in tech. 

Whether any adjustments to the H-1B’s prevailing wage will “stick,” of course, hinges largely on the upcoming election. Trump’s temporary ban on the H-1B and other visas was struck down recently by United States District Judge Jeffrey S. White’s ruling in National Association of Manufacturers, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security,forcing a major change in the Trump administration’s overall visa strategy. 

29 Responses to “What Amazon, Google H-1B Workers Earn Over the Prevailing Wage”

  1. Larry Peteet

    Very good information to be aware of here. I am a 30 year Senior Software Developer and have a LOT of experience in the IT industry and also with Onshore H1B developers. Having been and Independent Software Consultant for 20 years; I have seen many times where there are a LOT of H1B workers at companies I worked at. I also know of many American Developers that have a hard time getting a job when they are very experienced and are not even asking for a Top-Level wage. Anyone who looks at how many H1B workers there are in the IT Industry they would be amazed. And they are almost always paid a lot less than a US Citizen from many of my Anecdotal experiences.
    Help the US Citizens first and foremost. Once they are good to go then we can discuss how the laws should affect foreign workers working in the United States of America. If most countries took care of their citizens then that would be a great starting point towards making the world a much better place IMNHO.

    • Robert Miles

      In the past, I learned new technologies at jobs with companies that were already planning to use them. I’m now retired, but still interested in learning a few new technologies. I find that many of them are not offered in the online classes I would now need to use. How are people who don’t already have jobs supposed to learn those new technologies?

  2. Outsourcing

    Look at the peanuts – TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Accenture Federal Services ( not sure why these get Federal contracts when they hire mostly H1B on all Federal contracts – Public Money wasted on Foreigners ). Just like US banned Huewai networks on national security reasons, should ban Outsourcing on national security reasons. Offshoring has its own downfall – US customer / consumer data, company login credentials, intellectual property, Data center keys, sensitive documents, company information, Data, company code in hands of foreign nationals outside US ? US corporations will learn not to outsource hard way but sure they will learn.

  3. The money most employees make in stock rewards and bonuses is crazy in FAANG. Stock rewards exceed base pay for senior and above, principal make even twice of base pay. Go check teamblind to see current offers developers are getting.

  4. The question to be asked is what would employers be required to pay if the H-1B and other sources of foreign labor not exist? If they are allowed to pay less then American workers are harmed. The nation is also harmed in that the addition wages that would be paid to American workers would act as a Keynesian stimulus to the economy.

  5. GoHKNoCCP

    I don’t believe the claim that company hires H1B workers because they want to cut cost. In fact, most H1B workers at large companies earned their degree from top American universities. Based on what I am seeing, there’s a significant shortage of capable engineers across the tech industry. Many claim that they have many years of experience only to be found out later that they spent the last couple of years writing basic UI code with no depth. Companies should hire based on candidate skills but not nationality. Curbing H1Bs will only help to ship jobs to places like Canada (as it’s already happening with Google, Facebook, Uber). IMO the government should only take out scam companies like InfoSys and Tata and enable more high skilled workers with American degrees to get the visa.

  6. easy to fix the system is make the client to post the job ad, conduct interviews and hire qualified candidate. If a visa holder is hired, submit recruitment results to USCIS.
    Make USCIS funded by government not to depend on visa fee to stop flooding visas and green cards.
    Trump is the only one who is doing great in last decade for Citizens and for the nation, building border wall or stopping few Asia countries to take over control of US businesses and immigration, building economy and creating more jobs even during pandemic all over the world.

    • Since you wanted to turn this to politics – let’s do so. Yes, Trump has attempted to build a wall, call out China, but his response to the pandemic has been abysmal. How has he created more jobs during the pandemic? Rather, unemployment continues to increase with figures of 30M+ unemployed. Get your facts straight!

  7. Arnd dixit

    I would not propagate that H1B workers are highly skilled and are answer to scarce resources. I would rather focus on the quality if H1B who should come to US and set standards. There is scarcity in some areas but what are the Government programmes doing to find mid term and long term solutions and thats where we need ask the question.
    Focus shoild be defintely on high skilled resources which first should be found locally and then looked in Continent Europe, Africa, Asia and not only India.
    We need diverse talent and not Indian talent but the trend seems be more towards Indian whichbI think is not fair to others.
    This needs stop. Opportunities should be fairly divided and focus given the quality and not price and thats what companies are winning again and again.
    They make huge profits in billions and buy cheap labour, tax evasion through smart tax tricks what else you want ro give them?

  8. Johnny Quest

    Anyone ever thought about a boycott campaign for companies that hire a lot of h1bs-or send jobs overseas? Am I the only one tired of call center employees I can’t understand?

    If the American public knew how bad it is in IT I believe there would be outrage.

    Why does our government support India by looking the other way?

  9. JUST SAY, “NO!”

    To US companies relying on the H1b AND L1 visas to lower IT costs at the expense of American IT workers!!

    They’ve been getting away with this for years!!

    WE NEED TO ENFORCE THE CHANGES NOW!!

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! ENOUGH TALK!!

  10. I read the general consensus here as recognizing that H1-B’s have harmed your job prospects and income. But I must ask the question: How many of you will be voting for Trump vs Biden ? Trump is the only president in 30 years to recognize that H1-B’s are destroying one of the few success areas of the US economy since the 90’s. (In 2016 I was making less than I made in 1998). Biden hugged the factory workers of the mid-west, then returned to DC to ship their jobs overseas. Biden tried to do that unsuccessfully with the 90’s IT off-shoring attempts — they failed (youngsters are too young to remember). That is how we got the H1-B program. Biden has received millions from India corporations — using his family as the money launderers — that means he will undo Trump’s reduction of H1-B imports and undo Trump’s increases of H1-B salaries. Because of Trump’s temporary H1-B shutdown, even in the midst of this pandemic, I am fielding multiple offers for IT work. My graduating son will even have a job if Trump is re-elected. This is only because Trump disrupted the H1-B program – I would prefer to see it eliminated, but that requires congress and no Democrat will vote to reduce foreign workers taking American jobs. Please remember who is looking out for you on November 3rd and vote for yourself by voting against Biden.

  11. Arnd dixit

    The US government works on lobbying, which means, money pumped in from Saudia Arabia, India and EU majorly. The companies from tbese countries are getting favourable or Priority treatment from the US government in terms of policies designed to suport their interests and not US. I am not making a propoganda here of any party in whatsoever manner. What I am suggesting is to look into the facts, the history, experiences, make a wise decision before you go out voting.
    Fact is what we have today has been a process of policies evolved and consequenve of it.
    If you guys are happy accept it if not go for a change but ensure that you dont get fooled by false propaganda.
    I am from EU and see this from outiside nad have been a victim of the big companies being uppper hand and lost my bread. Today if I get into debts is not because out of my freewill but because government has forced me into but smartly they dont want to accept it ans shirk the blame back on me. Who is a winner the companies and government.
    I continue to loose income without any income and what we in EU get unemployment doles which are peanuts in comparison to what I can earn or what I could earn otherwise. We have same issue in EU as in the US and there is one major cause are the Global Companies !!!

  12. James Bradley

    It’s easy to talk about employers who pay all their workers (not just H1Bs) higher than the “prevailing wage”. What’s more difficult, is to look at the entire industry, especially those shops outside of Silicon Valley, who fire American workers in order to get H1Bs to replace them at lower wages.
    The trope that Dice pontificates every week about how great the H1B programs are, and why we should flood our country with these workers, has caused me to now consign any “Dice communications” to the spam folder.
    In other words, I’m finished with Dice, and their libtard agendas.

  13. Let me tell you the true fact on skilled labour. How the labour skills itself, in India especially, is not going to an elite IT institution but around the corner side training school who dont have any specific standards of training. They cant speak proper English and install illegal softwares and call themselves a training school. Bachelor degrees can be bought and not completed. The CV is lied by stating 10 years of experience and the fact being is not more then 1 year. All these facts allow them to still qualify for H1B and replace a local job? An individual who has gone to a University by paying for his studies and getting a degree through honest means? is that what we call a fair system? This is how the government has supported the H1B for all these reasons and giving the Firms an upper hand. I would say we need really set standards of who should come to the US. Question remains who is good enough to work in the US.
    Global Consulting need stop this Menace and the governments need act now.