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The Supply-And-Demand Factor

February 4, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 5

Dec. 17, 2012, page 24: A story observing that Dow Chemical’s stock price fell 3.3% on Dec. 3 should have mentioned that the Standard & Poor’s chemical index fell 1.9% on the same day.

Jan. 21, page 37: The call for nominations for the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences should have noted that, for the first time, the award is being opened to international in addition to domestic nominees.

I found irony in the juxtaposition of two articles in the same issue of C&EN (Nov. 5, 2012). “Looking for a Visa Victory” is about easing visa requirements for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals (page 26), and the cover story, “For Hire” (page 43), is about the plight of many professional members of the American Chemical Society.

Like any resource, human expertise is subject to the laws of supply and demand. If one increases the numbers of trained professionals in chemistry by easing restrictions on visas, the ability of laid-off STEM professionals to find jobs in the profession at reasonable salaries will be affected.

Whether some action is viewed as positive or negative depends strongly on whose ox is being gored. When a policy is touted as a benefit, it is always necessary to ask, “Whose benefit?” There are frequently several beneficiaries of easing visa requirements for STEM professionals, but with a larger pool of talent, salary offers will not be higher. To whose benefit is that?

Cecil Dybowski
Newark, Del.


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