Coding for $15 an hour?

Could a computer coding job paying just $15 per hour signal something's wrong with the tech world?

That relatively measly amount is what's promised in an ad for a "ASP.NET Programmer" on the America's Job Bank site. The job, which calls for "at least 1 year's experience either in school, at work, or a combination of the two," is being offered by employment services company AppleOne, according to the ad.

$15 per hour for a computer programmer makes the position fall below the 10th percentile for the programming occupation both nationally and in California, where the job is said to be located. It's less than what some security guards make.

And it has Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild advocacy group, steamed about the way domestic techies have to compete with a greater number of foreign workers. A $15-per-hour coding gig doesn't jibe with the recent expansion of the H-1B guest worker visa program, Berry argued in an email Thursday.

"(Department of Labor) and Congress--under the law of supply and demand, aren't wages supposed to go up when there is a shortage?" Berry wrote. "And if there is not a shortage, why did you recently increase the H-1B quota by another 20,000 foreign workers per year?"

To be fair, one defense of H-1B visas is not linked directly to a shortage of workers. Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, has argued that the visas give U.S. companies important access to international talent as they compete globally.

Even so, the ad's wage does make one wonder if guest worker visas and the rise of offshoring are undermining U.S. tech careers--and by extension threatening the country's tech leadership.

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