Last month the Brookings Institute released a study on highly skilled immigrant workers and their demand based upon geographic region within the United States. What Brookings found was that the highly coveted STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers who make up the majority of H-1B visas are more often finding a home in the Midwest.
Expected tech hubs such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose are still at the very top in terms of total H-1B requests. But when Brookings looked at the ranking of cities in terms of H-1B requests per 1,000 workers, it found the Midwest is one of the country's up-and-coming hotbed for these visas.
Columbus, Indiana, home of engine manufacturer Cummins Inc., was No. 2 in the country behind only San Jose in terms of requests per worker. Columbus requested 15 H-1Bs for every 1,000 workers, 90 percent of which came from Cummins.
In recent years cities in places like Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas have become hubs for H-1B hires. "The heartland is really looking for engineers," one of the study's authors told Bloomberg News.
Kansas City, for example, is now in the top-40 for H-1B requests at 1,527. More than 1,000 of those were in the fields of computer science (878) and engineering (134). Peoria, Illinois, home to equipment maker Caterpillar, is No. 3 in the United States in terms of the percentage of its H-1B requests used for STEM workers.
Not surprisingly, the report also found the need for H-1B workers continues to exceed the number of visas allowed. With a shortage of properly trained U.S. workers, it found an accompanying shortage of labor possessing these qualifications.