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The Antitrust Bulletin





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Guest workers on visas in the United States may be unable to quit bad employers due to barriers to mobility and a lack of labor market competition. Using H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B program data, we calculate the concentration of employers in geographically defined labor markets within occupations. We find that many guest workers face moderately or highly concentrated labor markets, based on federal merger scrutiny guidelines, and that concentration generally decreases wages. For example, moving from a market with a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index of zero to a market comprised of two employers lowers H-1B worker wages approximately 10%, and a pure monopsony (one employer) reduces wages by 13%. A simulation shows that wages under pure monopsony could be 47% lower, suggesting that employers do not use the full extent of their monopsony power. Enforcing wage regulations and decreasing barriers to mobility may better address issues of exploitation than antitrust scrutiny alone.


Author Posting © Sage, 2019. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Sage for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Antitrust Bulletin, Volume 64, Issue 4, September 2019.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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