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Tech Labor Market Strengthens

? Democrats and the Economy |


| Robert Fogel on Pessimistic Economists ?

July 08, 2005

Tech Labor Market Strengthens

Michael Mandel

Today's job report gives more signs that the domestic tech labor market continues to strengthen, despite offshoring. For one, the number of domestic jobs in "computer and mathematical occupations" is up 7.5% over the past year, a very strong performance.

Moreover, some of the key tech industries are clearly willing to hire in decent numbers. For example, year over year domestic job growth in "custom computer programming services" has gone over 5%, a level not reached since 2001.

This is an industry with over 500K workers, so it's not insignificant(this chart shows a three month moving average).

Where are the weak spots? Employment in tech hardware is still flat, year over year, and that may never change. And telecom companies are still shedding jobs, compared to a year ago.

11:48 AM


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But is this anything more than a dead cat bounce? More left the workforce than new jobs were created last month. At least some businesses have decided to spend some money finally.

Posted by: Lord at July 8, 2005 03:14 PM

The tech job market still has problems:

Five U.S. Technical Job Classifications Show

Employment Drop, One Shows Steep Increase

WASHINGTON (15 June 2005) — Five major engineering and computer job classifications showed a drop in employment in the first quarter of 2005 vs. the 2004 average, while one showed a large increase, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The biggest drop was among computer hardware engineers (18,000), followed by computer software engineers (13,000), computer programmers (8,000), electrical and electronics engineers (8,000) and computer and information systems managers (5,000). Contrasted with this loss of 52,000 jobs, the BLS reported a gain of 54,000 jobs among computer scientists and systems analysts.

“While we are encouraged by the employment growth among computer scientists and systems analysts, the continuing shrinkage of other technical specialties signals that all is not well in electrotechnology professions,” IEEE-USA President Gerard A. Alphonse said.


Posted by: bhaim at July 11, 2005 01:20 PM

Philip Bond, undersecretary of technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce says U.S. engineers currently have a larger unemployment rate than the rest of the U.S. population.

Indeed, a government representative called the 5.8 percent unemployment rate for computer programmers and network, system, and data analysts “extraordinary,” pointing out that almost all professional groups have unemployment rates well below the national average.

In 2000 the aggregate unemployment for computer and mathematical occupations was 2.2 percent; in 2003 it was 5.5 percent; it now stands at 5.8 percent.

Posted by: bhaim at July 11, 2005 01:29 PM

I've always wondered why telecom jobs are considered IT....

Telecom is mostly a blue collar job; installing network lines, setting up phone lines, customer service, etc. Doesn't take any kind of formal training to run a CAT-5 cable or sell a cell phone.

Take telecom out of IT, and the picture gets rosier. One must also look at the high number of unqualified candidates who poured into the field in the late 1990s. Those people read some kind of book, learned a few keywords, and next thing you know a guy has moved from the beer truck to the software world. People who have no formal training could not succeed when the bar was raised, and thus found themselves on the road and on the front page of the USA Today complaing how they could not find a job paying $90,000 a year.

Posted by: Wes at July 11, 2005 03:49 PM

Many tech workers left the labor force after the tech bust because they could not find work:

The number of employed U.S. technical workers has fallen by 221,000 in six major computer and engineering job classifications from 2000 to 2004, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to the BLS, computer programmers have taken the biggest hit, with a drop of more than 24 percent — from 745,000 in 2000 to 564,000 in 2004. In addition, the number of employed electrical and electronics engineers shrunk by 101,000, from 444,000 in 2000 to 343,000 last year, a decrease of nearly 23 percent. Computer scientists and systems analysts have experienced similar losses, dropping more than 16 percent, from 835,000 in 2000 to 700,000 in 2004.

Posted by: bhaim at July 12, 2005 10:19 AM

There's no doubt that the situation for tech workers is still worse than at the peak of the boom, in terms of total employment. The recent gains, though, appear to be stronger than a 'dead cat bounce'

Posted by: Michael Mandel at July 12, 2005 01:20 PM

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