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INFLUENCE GAME: Tech, Labor Spar On Immigration

Scot Melland, president and chief executive of Dice Holdings Inc., which operates a career website devoted to tech jobs, said Dice.com has more than 80,000 positions posted on its site, which turn over an average of every two weeks. And while his company doesn't track how many jobs result in H-1B visa hires, Melland said he predicts that the number of tech jobs and high salaries available to Americans is likely to grow for some time. He said expanding the H-1B program is necessary, so long as safeguards prevent companies from exploiting foreign workers.

"As long as it's not abused, you're still talking about a small fraction of the tech labor market," Melland said.

Lowell said the number of information technology jobs affected by H-1B candidates is closer to 3.5 million than the broader pool of 6 million computer-related jobs frequently cited by industry. He said this more specialized labor market could become distorted by the Senate's plan to increase the number of legal immigrants overall.

According to a recent report by the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute, the number of skilled guest workers has increased sharply in recent years while only 1 in 2 U.S. college graduates with high-tech degrees can find a job in their field.

"You have to question why we would want to import an increasing number of foreign workers," said Lowell, who co-wrote the report.

___

Follow Anne Flaherty on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AnneKFlaherty

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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