[FoRK] Tech Employment Drops Sharply In 2004 (fwd from brian-slashdotnews@hyperreal.org)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Aug 8 06:40:25 PDT 2004

----- Forwarded message from brian-slashdotnews at hyperreal.org -----

From: brian-slashdotnews at hyperreal.org
Date: 8 Aug 2004 13:26:01 -0000
To: slashdotnews at hyperreal.org
Subject: Tech Employment Drops Sharply In 2004
User-Agent: SlashdotNewsScooper/0.0.3

Link: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/08/0533220
Posted by: timothy, on 2004-08-08 11:51:00

   from the statistics-are-what-they-are dept.
   Cryofan writes "According to Information Week, the lastest Bureau of
   Labor Statistics report shows that [1]the number of Americans calling
   themselves IT professionals has decreased by nearly 160,000 in the
   last 3 years, and the number of programmers, analysts, and support
   specialists has fallen 15% since the first six months of 2004.
   According to IT World, the number of [2]employed Software Engineers
   fell by 15% from April to July of 2004 (from 856,000 to 725,000)."


   1. http://informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=26100484
   2. http://www.itworld.com/Career/1827/040726techemployment/

----- End forwarded message -----

IT Jobs Continue To Disappear

An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows nearly 160,000 IT jobs
have disappeared in the past three years, while the IT unemployment rate has
nearly doubled since 2000.

By Eric Chabrow,  InformationWeek
July 28, 2004

Nearly 160,000 fewer Americans call themselves IT professionals today than
three years ago. Despite fewer workers within the profession, the IT
unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the beginning of the millennium.

According to an analysis by InformationWeek of U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics employment data, the number of IT managers has soared since 2000,
while the ranks of computer programmers and computer scientists-systems
analysts has plummeted.

The IT labor force--those who consider themselves IT professionals, whether
employed or unemployed--fell to 3.4 million during the first half of 2004,
down from a five-year peak of nearly 3.6 million in 2001. That represents a
4.5% decline in the IT labor force. At the apex, Americans employed in IT
approached 3.5 million; this year, that number fell to 3.2 million, a decline
of nearly 7% in three years.

IT unemployment, which hovered just below 3% in 2000 and 2001 before
businesses felt the full brunt of the dot-com collapse and recession, has
stabilized between 5.5% and 6% over the past three years. During the first
six months of this year, IT joblessness averaged 5.5%.

Each month, the Census Bureau queries 60,000 households about employment, and
the Bureau of Labor Statistics mines the results of that survey to determine
the monthly unemployment rate it reports the first Friday of each month. The
Bureau of Labor Statistics also publishes, but does not publicize, employment
and unemployment data for hundreds of job categories. Because each job
classification--such as database administrators--is a relatively small sample
size compared with the overall survey, economists contend they're
statistically less reliable, resulting in the government's reluctance to
publicly circulate the data. To improve the reliability of our analysis,
InformationWeek aggregated a half-year's worth of data.

This is the first time current employment data can be compared with
statistics reported earlier in the decade. In 2003, the government began a
new way of defining jobs, making comparisons to earlier years impossible.
Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recalculated data from 2000, 2001,
and 2002 to conform to current job classification definitions, making
comparisons back to 2000 possible.

Within the IT field, eight job categories exist: computer-IS manager,
computer scientists-systems analysts, computer programmers, computer software
engineers, computer support specialists, database administrators,
network-computer systems administrators, and network systems-data
communications analysts.

The IT job category that experienced the biggest percentage workforce
increase is managers, up nearly 60% from 2000 to 2004. In the first half of
2000, 214,000 IT managers were in the workforce; four years later that number
stood at 341,000, an increase of 127,000.

The rise in IT managers isn't all that surprising. Don't equate manager with
supervisor. True, many managers do supervise, but not all of them. The Census
Bureau, which conducts the household survey, defines computer-IT managers as
those who plan, direct, or coordinate activities in fields such as electronic
data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and computer
programming. Thus, a senior systems analyst who plans and coordinates the
implementation of a new system could be classified as a manager, not a
systems analyst.

The biggest IT job category--computer software engineers--grew to 816,000, up
from 757,000 in 2000, a nearly 8% increase. Other IT jobs seeing an increase
in workforce numbers between the first halves of 2000 and 2004: database
administrators, nearly doubling from 47,000 to 92,000, network-computer
systems administrators, up 36% from 135,000 to 184,000, and network
systems-data communications analysts, up 6% from 305,000 to 323,000.

The bulk of the IT workforce loss occurred among computer scientists-systems
analysts, programmers, and support specialists. In 2000, there were 893,000
computer scientists-systems analysts--more than any other IT job category.
Since then, nearly a quarter of American computer scientists-systems
analysts--some 209,000--have vanished from the workforce. Also, 132,000
computer programmers disappeared during that period, falling 17% from 764,000
in the first half of 2000 to 632,000 earlier this year. The number of
computer support specialists fell by 28,000, from 366,000 to 338,000, an 8%
decline. Businesses may need fewer programmers and analysts as they move away
from customized applications and employ off-the-shelf software. "It makes
more sense if businesses are moving away from programmer-analyst positions to
managers since there's more involvement with working with vendors than with
the specific details of programming," says Karen Kosanovich, a Bureau of
Labor Statistics economist.

The IT job classification with the lowest unemployment for the first half of
2004 was database administrators, at 2.8%; the highest was computer
programmers, at 8.3%. But because the sample size for each one is small,
doubts can be raised about the data's reliability.

Unemployment by profession is hard to pinpoint because of the small size of
the sample for each job classification. With that in mind, here are the
unemployment rates for the eight professional IT occupations: database
administrators, 2.8%; software engineers, 3.2%; computer/IS managers, 4.6%;
network/computer systems administrators, 4.9%; support specialists, 5.3%;
computer scientists/systems analysts, 5.7%; network-computer systems
analysts, 8.2%; and computer programmers, 8.3%. As a comparison, overall
unemployment during the first half of 2004 stood at nearly 5.3%.

Among all management occupations, unemployment averaged nearly 2.7%. IT
managers didn't do as well; the unemployment rate for computer-IT managers
was 4.6% during the first half of 2004.

High-tech employment numbers drop in second quarter
IDG News Service 7/26/04

Grant Gross, IDG News Service, Washington Bureau

The number of U.S. workers employed in four IT-related occupations has
dropped between the first and second quarters of 2004, according to numbers
culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA (IEEE-USA) blamed
the drop in employed software engineers, programmers, hardware engineers and
computer scientists and systems analysts on the continuing trend for U.S.
companies to send jobs overseas, often called offshore outsourcing. The
number of employed workers in those fields also seem to contradict the
unemployment numbers that the BLS has released, which show a dip in the
unemployment rates in those fields.

But the two sets of numbers are measuring different things, said Gary
Steinberg, a spokesman for BLS. A programmer who is hired in a different
field no longer counts in the unemployment rate, even if fewer programmers
are employed this quarter, Steinberg noted.

The overall number of people employed in computer-related occupations in the
U.S. dropped by about 9,000 people from the first to second quarter. The 2.96
million computer-related jobs in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2004
compared to an average of 2.98 million during 2003.

According to numbers released by IEEE-USA Monday:

-- The number of employed software engineers in the U.S. dropped from 856,000
in the first quarter of 2004 to 725,000 in the second quarter. Yet, the
unemployment rate among software engineers dropped from 3.3 percent to 2.9
percent between the two quarters. In 2003, an average of 758,000 software
engineers were employed in the U.S.

-- The number of computer scientists and systems analysts dropped from
672,000 to 621,000 between the two quarters. Unemployment dropped from 6.7
percent to 4 percent. An average of 722,000 computer scientists and systems
analysts were employed during 2003.

-- The number of computer programmers dropped from 591,000 to 575,000 between
the first and second quarters this year, although the second-quarter numbers
are still higher than 2003's average of 563,000 employed U.S. programmers.
The unemployment rate among programmers dropped from 9.5 percent in the first
quarter to 5.7 percent in the second quarter, according to BLS numbers.

-- The number of employed computer hardware engineers dropped from 86,000 to
83,000 between the two quarters. The 2003 average was 99,000 employed
hardware engineers in the U.S.

The employment report contained some apparent good news for electrical and
electronics engineers. Their numbers swelled from 327,000 to 351,000 between
the first and second quarters, although the 2003 average was 363,000.
According to the BLS, the unemployment rate among electrical and electronics
engineers dropped from 5.3 percent in the first quarter to 0.8 percent in the
second quarter, but IEEE-USA suggested the huge drop in the unemployment
number may be due to a sampling error.

The lower unemployment numbers overall don't tell the whole story, the
IEEE-USA said. "We think a lot of that would be ... people being discouraged
and leaving the field," said Chris McManes, a spokesman for IEEE-USA. "It's
kind of strange that the numbers of employed people fell, as well as the
unemployment rates."

IEEE-USA placed much of the employment losses on offshore outsourcing.
McManes called on the U.S. Congress to explore ways to encourage companies to
keep jobs in the U.S. While presumptive Democratic presidential candidate
John Kerry has called for changes in the U.S. tax code, which now discourages
companies from reinvesting money made overseas back in the U.S., the IEEE-USA
hasn't taken sides on which of the two major parties has a better plan to
deal with outsourcing, McManes said.

Others argue that in the long term, outsourcing makes sense for U.S.
companies and U.S. foreign policy. Some residents of nations with few
economic opportunities can turn to terrorism or cause other political
instability, said Adam Kolawa, chief executive officer of Parasoft Corp., a
Monrovia, California, software vendor that uses offshore outsourcing.

But countries with strong economic ties to the U.S. have little reason to
target the nation, Kolawa said. "Offshore development is the best way to
prevent going to war," he said.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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