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Salary Survey: The Luck of the Draw

By Kathleen Melymuka
October 28, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - For the past year, Bank One Corp. in Chicago has been steeped in a massive project to consolidate disparate financial systems added through acquisitions. The bank has taken advantage of the flush market in IT workers to hire more than 1,000 people with expertise in networking, telecommunications, data center operations, management, business analysis, Cobol and PCs, making technology one of the busiest areas of the company.


Quite the opposite is true at a major national insurance company in the Midwest. There, the picture could hardly be bleaker. "We're under a ton of expense pressure," says the vice president of IT, who asked not to be identified for fear of embarrassing his company. His budget is flat, and he's cutting back everywhere. There's no money for new hires, and, with management weeding out subpar performers, no one feels secure. "Going into 2002, we were somewhat optimistic," the vice president says. Not so today. "We're just trying to hold the line," he says.


The sharply contrasting experiences of the IT departments at these two companies sum up Computerworld's 16th Annual Salary Survey quite well. Although IT professionals on average saw an increase in pay, the bottom line for workers is influenced today more by where they work than what they do.


Our 2002 survey of IT professionals shows more than half (59.7%) of the 9,138 respondents had an average 6% uptick in their salaries, although more than 70% of respondents were flatlined on bonuses. Conversely, the average increase in pay for U.S. workers was just 4% this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.


A much smaller percentage of Computerworld's survey-takers took pay cuts: 9.5% said their salaries dipped an average of 13.1%. Roughly 30% reported no change in their salaries.


The fact that the average raise was 6% surprises Kazim Isfahani, an analyst at Robert Frances Group Inc., a consulting firm in Westport, Conn. He speculates that workers delivering bottom-line results may be getting most of the money in the salary pool, while others are being let go or retrained.


Isfahani says he expects no change in the salary picture during the next six months and adds that unlike 24 months ago, IT workers are staying put because of the economic uncertainty. But he suggests that CIOs think beyond that. "Once the economy improves, more [workers] will get up and leave, especially if they've been unhappy," he says. "And from an organizational perspective, companies have to think about what they need to do to make sure key jobs are backfilled."











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