Unemployment high in Tech Sector – NYTimes

September 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm 4 comments

Job growth in fields like computer systems design and Internet publishing has been slow in the last year. Employment in areas like data processing and software publishing has actually fallen. Additionally, computer scientists, systems analysts and computer programmers all had unemployment rates of around 6 percent in the second quarter of this year.

While that might sound like a blessing compared with the rampant joblessness in manufacturing, it is still significantly higher than the unemployment rates in other white-collar professions.

via Tech Sector, Slow to Hire, Unlikely to Lead Recovery – NYTimes.com.

While the stats on high unemployment in technology are scary enough, the details in this piece challenge some of our hopes for the Technology market.  For example, the hope that R&D would not be off-shored:

“There’s been this assumption that there’s a global hierarchy of work, that all the high-end service work, knowledge work, R.&D. work would stay in U.S., and that all the lower-end work would be transferred to emerging markets,” said Hal Salzman, a public policy professor at Rutgers and a senior faculty fellow at Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

“That hierarchy has been upset, to say the least,” he said. “More and more of the innovation is coming out of the emerging markets, as part of this bottom-up push.”

So where’s this huge demand for more IT workers?

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark Miller  |  September 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    There were a couple threads from the article I stitched together to get a gist of what they were getting at.

    “We are talking about people with very particular, advanced skills out there who are at this point just not needed anymore.”

    What sort of advanced skills are we talking about?

    “C++ is now an international language,” she said. “If that’s all you know, then you’re competing with people in India or China who will do the work for less.”

    That’s it? C++. No mention of Java (though the language choice is not the point)? Is there no higher vision that is being pursued in IT, either in industry or academia? To me the question is, “What’s being done with computers?” What kind of vision is driving that pursuit, if any? It doesn’t look like the question was even considered. Their best suggestion is for CS students and IT workers to ditch computing and go into health care, which they anticipate is the next growth industry. It makes demographic sense, but this ignores other factors… Aside from the statistics I found this article hopelessly simple-minded.

    • 2. Erik Engbrecht  |  September 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

      I think there was a time when employers would hire 10 people in the hopes of obtaining 2-3 really good employees, because they don’t really know what they need and/or simply can’t reliably tell candidates apart. Today if they’re in that situation they look to where workers are cheap instead of to the US.

      Meanwhile the places that know what they are looking for complain that they can’t find what they are looking for, most likely because it’s a search for a needle in a haystack.

      Training more generic technology workers just makes the haystack bigger, which doesn’t solve anyone’s problems.

  • […] recall) and current enrollment in CS at Stanford. Students follow the incentives.  The reports of rising Tech unemployment dissuade students, as do the reports that employers are less likely to hire people without the […]

  • […] big gap from where it was and where the Bureau of Labor Statistics says it needs to be.  However, that’s not a compelling story when there are so many out-of-work IT workers. The issue about innovation and competitiveness is more pressing. Losing our CS-STEM workers also […]


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