I think this article glosses over the assumption of 'equal work' and 'same qualifications'.
I think all of your readers are well acquainted with the real cultural differences between Eastern and Western engineers. Eastern engineers, because of cultural differences, often can't perform even the most basic tasks without specific step by step instructions, whereas Western engineers are more prone to self-guidance and self-management. (Note this is a generalization and potentially dangerous stereotype, not applicable to all people, but is used to illustrate a point.)
The pay inequity is not truly an inequity when one group is so much harder to manage and direct.
For those Eastern engineers who are self-directing and truly have equal qualifications, I have no quarrel with their unrest or demand for equity.
My 2-cent worth opinion.
A lot of engineers in China, for example, may have just 3-year working experience after college before they move on to manager or something else. Also during their 3-year as engineers, they hardly do truly real development, i.e. world-class product. The salary survey should include what kind of commercial products engineer produced.
I cannot comment on engineers on other countries. However, I worked at may Massachusetts and Silicon Valley hightech companies for 18 years after got my Ph. D. I, and many others like me with 10+ years experience, are still worked as developer, day-in-day-out, and chucked out products millions are actually using (which also indicate our career are utterly failure).
We pay much higher income tax. If we count the social security, medicare that we may never see a penny, and state and local tax, sales tax. If we are double earning family, AMT kicks in and we only bring home half of the income on paper.
Also, our cost of living are much higher (SF bay area). Therefore, the income on paper is really not a good gauge on compensations. EE-times survey should adjust those factors.
Your graphic cuts like a knife into a business practice that has long needed to be examined.
Twenty years ago work went to Taiwan and Singpaore. When they got too pricey it moved to Malaysia. When prices went up there it went to India and China. Ten years from now we will be offshoring to Africa. Then what?
When will this industry think about building a sustianable and fair model? I suspect about the time the ocean waters are rising in New York and San Francisco and we start thinking we better take action on that global warming thing, too.
Until then, hey we are helping other countries raise their standard of living. It's just good business.
Bill SJ makes a good point at the end ... what is the relative cost of living in each location? I once lived in the Chicago area and a lawyer friend got a job in Manhattan for a 25% raise. The problem was that she would have needed a third or even 50% raise just to break even! I went the opposite direction and for the same base salary, got the effect of a 10% raise in a cheaper market. For $22K per year in India, an engineer may have a lot of other benefits or lower costs to live, in some ways, better than the $116K person in North America.
I think it's a mistake to think that there is a sustainable condition that grants US-bourne engineers a distinctive merit that justifies higher salary. There is no barrier between US and Asia to keep technical knowledge and culture from moving. Many tech companies in Asia are staffed and supervised by US-educated engineers and scientists: I know many people I used to work with in Silicon Valley who are now in Asia directing technology and product development. It would be extremely naive to think that junior engineers working with these US exported senior engineers today will not grow to be as competitive as US-grown engineers in the future.
One major thing that the report does not factor in is cost of living. What someone is paid in the US (or other country) vs elsewhere can NEVER be a straight apples to apples comparison.
Yes without a doubt salaries are lower in Asia/India/Mexico etc. but - so is the cost of living there. Having been to Taiwan more times than I care to count I can tell you food and housing is far cheaper there than it is in the USA.
What I would like to see is a truly balanced comparison based on purchasing power of ones paycheck. If that is taken in to account I would be very surprised if it is not equal or at least much closer to parity.
From the California Budget Project's "Making Ends Meet" publication, the basic cost of living for a family of four in California is around 50K assuming you don't save anything, have no unforseen medical expenses, no luxury expenses. Pretax this and you get 80K. On top of this, you need to plan for medical costs, retirement, college tuition for kids, daycare costs for toddlers etc, i.e. costs that people in EU, Japan or China do not normally have, and the figure easily shoots upwards of 120K.
Cost of living vs. dollar value of salary explains some of the disparity. However, this is nothing like the disconnect between top management salaries in these countries. In the US, dim witted investors are confused between a company's performance and the management team's. The off shore management teams will eventually prevail because they still value the actual products that are sold and traded. Therefore they value the workforce and creative teams and will grow their own in-house talent. They will be responsible in maintaining their successful teams. Their salaries will go up because they will eventually outproduce us, because we are reducing our productive work force and short changing their potential replacements. The Boeing Dreamliner is an extreme case of managment not taking responsibility for maintaining company talent and outsourcing without any appreciation for the actual work that goes into making something happen. However, it is the tip of the ice berg of corporate America betraying the entire nation by dismantling so much of our creative potential and then looting the profits.
If you think the Eastern engineer's salary will be increased to match the US engineer's you are wrong.
It is far more likely the US engineer will see their salaries going down toward the Asian levels.
Wasn't this the globalization goal all along?
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