American Businesses Struggling to Hire STEM Talent

National Survey: American Businesses Struggling to Hire STEM Talent Due to Increasing Scarcity, Higher Costs and Government Fees

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Competitiveness Alliance (ACAlliance), a coalition of organizations dedicated to advancing common-sense immigration policies, today released a national survey highlighting the increasing challenges businesses face when recruiting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and IT professionals, including scarcity of talent, climbing administrative and regulatory costs, and constricting wage pressures.

As a result of this scarcity, wages have steadily increased for high-paying, in-demand positions in STEM fields, with three in four executives reporting higher salaries for their STEM workers than in the previous five years. Further, many of these jobs go unfilled for weeks or even months due to the limited pool of qualified candidates and increasing costs associated with recruitment and retention of skilled employees. Subsequent economic pressures decrease productivity and limit expansion, negatively impacting the marketplace and hampering job growth.

The survey – conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group – analyzed responses from 400 hiring managers and executives from companies nationwide and found that:

  • 8 in 10 executives report their company is investing more in STEM recruiting as a result of IT hiring challenges;
  • 82 percent of business professionals report hiring a skilled foreign worker costs as much or more than hiring a U.S. worker;
  • 3 in 4 professionals say the costs associated with sponsoring and complying with the H-1B visa program are already too high for most American companies.

The recent doubling of H-1B visa fees for some employers is particularly troubling in light of these data. In December 2015, the U.S. Congress included a provision in the omnibus spending bill which increased the visa processing fee from $2,000 to $4,000 per application. Businesses without the resources to pay this and other increasing costs – typically, smaller, local businesses already struggling to compete against their larger rivals – will be hardest hit. Large businesses, meanwhile, may relocate operations outside the U.S., where a large base of skilled talent is readily available to ensure they remain globally competitive.

“These data make clear that we need a multi-faceted approach to tackling America’s SKILLS gap,” said Matthew Slaughter, Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and Academic Advisor for the American Competitiveness Alliance. “While a robust investment in STEM education will help our economy in the long-run, we clearly need policies from Washington that support growth, not slow it.

A 2013 Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report found that the U.S. is already on track to face a shortage of five million workers by the end of this decade, with nearly 80 percent of those positions requiring various levels of advanced education.

Additional details on the survey, the first of two to be released this year, can be found on the ACAlliance website at

About the ACAlliance
The American Competitiveness Alliance (ACAlliance) is a coalition of organizations dedicated to advancing modern immigration policies that ensure America’s global competitiveness through attracting and keeping talent here in the United States.

The ACAlliance is led by co-chairs former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.  The ACAlliance works to educate and inform stakeholders of the positive impact immigration reform can have on our economy, while cautioning against proposals that would do our economy harm. Visit us online at or follow us on Twitter: @AC_Alliance

CONTACT:  Elysa Montfort, 410-916-1369,

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SOURCE American Competitiveness Alliance (ACAlliance)


Retailers begin staffing up for the holidays

Retailers begin staffing up for the holidays

September 18

While you are still enjoying the last gasps of summer weather, the nation’s largest retailers and shippers have already begun their hiring sprees for the Christmas shopping rush.

The retail industry is expected to add 755,000 temporary workers during October and November, about as many as they hired last year. But this year, filling certain positions could be tougher, industry analysts say.

An improved economy may encourage consumers to ramp up their holiday shopping, but the growing popularity of online shopping and the rise of profit-eating free-shipping polices is also forcing some retailers to change up their hiring strategies.

Target said it would  hire about 70,000 store workers for the third year in a row. Department store chain Kohl’s is expecting to hire 69,000 workers, slightly more than the 67,000 it aimed for last year. Toys R Us is poised to bring on 40,000 workers this year, fewer than the 45,000 it hired last year.  The toy retailer says the decline is because it has implemented new policies that will allow seasonal staffers to take on more hours than they were able to in the past.

The composition of retailers’ holiday workforce is changing as more shopping moves online.  Instead of cashiers and greeters, many stores are in greater of need of workers who can pack and process online orders. Of the 60,000 seasonal workers being added by Wal-Mart, the country’s largest retailer, 3,500 will be department managers who will manage orders that have been placed online for in-store pick-up.

Frank Layo, a retail supply chain strategist at consultancy Kurt Salmon, said some retailers looking to fill warehouse and e-commerce jobs this year could find themselves facing a labor shortage.   As the job market has improved, he said, there might be fewer people willing to take these physically taxing jobs.  And many retailers will have even more of these kinds of positions to fill than they have in the past.

Layo said many of his clients are already struggling to get enough warehouse workers as they bring in holiday goods.

“It’s not a dramatic impact on their bottom line right now, but it is the early warning sign it’s going to be a bigger problem,” Layo said….

…Major shippers UPS and FedEx have also begun their holiday hiring blitz.  UPS estimates it will hire up to 95,000 workers, slightly less than the 100,000 it added last year.  FedEx plans to add 55,000 temporary employees, about 5,000 more than last year.  E-commerce giant has yet to announce how many workers it will be looking to bring on.


Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post’s national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.