Netflix Overcomes the Shortage of STEM Workers

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013 04:10

Undoubtedly everyone has seen stories in the media about how we need to expand high-skilled immigration because we have a shortage of workers with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Claims of a shortage of STEM workers have been disconcerting to those of us who believe in economics since shortages are supposed to result in rising prices, or in this case, higher wages. We don't seem to be seeing rapidly rising wages in most areas, which makes the claims of shortages dubious.

It turns out that at least one major tech firm has figured out how markets work. Netflix apparently doesn't have any problem hiring STEM workers. It offers higher wages. According to Businessweek:

"Netflix can now hire just about any engineer it wants. That’s a function of the computer science the company does and its reputation as the highest payer in Silicon Valley. Managers routinely survey salary trends in Silicon Valley and pay their employees 10 percent to 20 percent more than the going rate for a given skill."

If Netflix can figure this out perhaps it would be possible for companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech giants to get this down as well. It is always good for a company to get lower cost labor, just like they want to pay less for all of their inputs. But if these companies really need workers, the trick is to offer higher pay. Maybe remedial courses for top management would do the trick.