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High-tech employment numbers drop in second quarter

Outsourcing is being cited as one reason for the decline

By Grant Gross
July 27, 2004 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The number of U.S. workers employed in four IT-related occupations dropped between the first and second quarters of 2004, according to an IEEE-USA analysis of numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The U.S. arm of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. 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 declining numbers of people employed in those professions seem to contradict BLS unemployment statistics, 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 the BLS. For example, a person who loses a job as a programmer and then takes a job in a different field no longer counts in the unemployment rate, although the number of people employed as programmers may be declining.
The overall number of people employed in computer-related occupations in the U.S. dropped by about 9,000 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.
The IEEE-USA reported the following high-tech employment trends yesterday:

  • 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% to 2.9% from one quarter to the next. 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 in the first quarter to 621,000 in the second, and the unemployment rate for computer scientists dropped from 6.7% to 4%. An average of 722,000 people were employed as computer scientists and systems analysts during 2003.

  • The number of people working as computer programmers dropped from 591,000 in the first quarter to 575,000 in the second, 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% in the first quarter to 5.7% in the second quarter, according to BLS numbers.

  • The number of employed computer hardware engineers dropped from 86,000 to 83,000 from the first quarter to the second. 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 in the first quarter to 351,000 in the second, although
Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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