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Chris Murphy
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More Than Half Of IT Pros Foresee A Recession

IT people tend to be a pretty optimistic bunch. So it's discouraging to see that 58% of IT pros in our recent survey say the economy is in a recession or headed toward one.

IT people tend to be a pretty optimistic bunch. So it's discouraging to see that 58% of IT pros in our recent survey say the economy is in a recession or headed toward one.That breaks down to 32% saying we're in a recession, 26% saying we're not but we're headed toward one. Another 32% consider this just "economic slowdown," while 10% say it's neither a slowdown nor recession. That's from our survey of 374 business-technology pros, which we fielded the first week of March.

Given that, a surprisingly high 43% say concern about the economy hasn't affected IT budget or spending plans. That could indicate the indispensable role of IT in business today. But there's also been a historical trend that IT is the last to admit -- or maybe the last to know -- that their budgets are about to take a hit.

Even heading into 2002, with recession practically kicking down the door, only 17% of IT pros in our then-annual Outlook survey predicted an IT budget cut at their companies. We know where IT budgets headed from there. U.S. IT payrolls shed about 150,000 jobs that year alone -- 4% of jobs -- driving IT unemployment from 3.7% to 5%.

Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that 71% of the 55 economists in its survey believe the U.S. is in a recession. Worse, the Journal reports:

... On average, the respondents think there's a 48% chance the downturn could be worse than the ones in 2001 and 1990-1, up from 39% in the February survey.

We'll have a full report on InformationWeek's research later this week as part of a package by my colleagues, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee and John Soat, offering insight on IT leadership in an economic downturn.

It should be timely advice. When IT pros join the economists in seeing tough times ahead, time to prepare.

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