Tech unemployment higher than white-collar average

IT jobs fared worse than many other professional occupations last year, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the unemployment rate for all professional occupations was 4.5% in 2010, all but two categories of tech workers exceeded that number. Doing better than average: database administrators (with the lowest rate of the categories measured, at 2.9%) and network systems/data communications analysts. Overall employment for computer and math jobs was 5.2%.

[ See related: As cloud grows, IT hiring flatlines ]

2010 was an especially tough year to be a computer support specialist, with joblessness hitting 7.7%.

In contrast, last year's unemployment rate was 4.8% for aerospace engineers, 1.5% for lawyers and 1.2% for pharmacists.

One thing many tech workers don't seem to be doing in the current job market is striking out on their own, either as freelancers or contract workers. Self-employment levels are significantly lower for computer/math jobs than for all professional occupations, with the notable exception of network systems and data communications analysts.

See more data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics below. Select job categories on the interactive graph (browser JavaScript required) to see unemployment and self-employment rates for various categories of tech workers from 2007-2010.

Tables below the graphic are sortable by clicking column headers

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Tech unemployment rates

Occupation 2007 2008 2009 2010
All computer and mathematical occupations 2.1 2.6 5.2 5.2
Computer and information systems managers 1.3 2.1 4.3 5.0
Computer scientists and systems analysts 2.2 2.3 6.1 5.9
Computer programmers 2.2 3.6 4.8 5.7
Computer software engineers 1.8 1.7 4.5 4.6
Computer support specialists 3.9 3.9 6.2 7.7
Database administrators 0.8 2.2 4.7 2.9
Network and computer systems administrators 2.3 3.0 7.0 5.4
Network systems and data communications analysts 1.6 3.0 5.1 4.4
All professional and related occupations 2.1 2.7 4.4 4.5
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tech self-employment rates

Occupation 2007 2008 2009 2010
All computer and mathematical occupations 5.1% 5.4% 5.5% 5.6%
Computer and information systems managers 3.6% 4.2% 2.8% 3.2%
Computer scientists and systems analysts 7.2% 7.2% 9.4% 8.8%
Computer programmers 5.5% 5.4% 5.0% 6.2%
Computer software engineers 2.8% 3.6% 2.9% 2.9%
Computer support specialists 1.5% 2.6% 0.8% 1.6%
Database administrators 5.8% 1.1% 1.8% 2.0%
Network and computer systems administrators 1.4% 1.8% 3.4% 1.3%
Network systems and data communications analysts 11.5% 13.1% 12.8% 15.1%
All professional and related occupations 8.5% 8.2% 8.5% 8.5%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Computerworld calculations. Rates show self-employment as a percent of total employed workforce, including those categorized as "incorporated self-employed" wage and salary workers.

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is smachlis@computerworld.com. You can follow her on Twitter @sharon000, on Facebook or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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