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Tech Professionals Unsure About Economy, Job Market, Survey Says

IT workers may think the economy is weakening and that fewer jobs are available, but they're overwhelmingly confident about their own job security.

Are IT professionals overconfident, underconfident, or just skittish about jobs?

Although more IT workers think the economy is weakening and believe fewer jobs are available, techies are overwhelmingly confident about their own job security, according to a new report by IT recruitment firm Spherion.

In the third quarter, only 19% of IT workers said they think the economy is getting stronger, down from the 31% who indicated as much in the second quarter, the survey says.

Spherion's survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, which polled about 9,100 employed adults, including nearly 500 who work in the tech sector. Of those techies surveyed, 44% said they think the economy is growing weaker, compared with 40% who held that view in the second quarter. Thirty-seven percent believe the economy is staying the same, compared with 29% in the previous quarter.

When it comes to job availability, 44% of tech pros said there were fewer jobs in the third quarter, compared to only 38% who said that was the case in the second quarter. And while 52% were confident about being able to find a new job, that optimism fell from 57% in the previous quarter.

Most IT workers--59%--in the third quarter were confident about the future of their current employers, but that optimism also waned from the second quarter, when 63% felt that way.

Still, despite their increasing concerns about the strength of the economy, job availability, and the future of their current employers, nearly three-quarters of IT workers indicated it's unlikely they'll lose their current jobs. This compares to 70% in the second quarter. Fewer--47%--techies said they plan to look for a new job, compared with 50% who were job hunting in the previous quarter.

Spherion officials seem to think these findings are symptomatic of a pseudo post-traumatic syndrome from the last time the job market was looking good for technology professionals.

"IT people had the world by its ear from 1995 to 2000, and then all of a sudden the phone stopped ringing and many lost their jobs," says Anthony Fanzo, IT practice director for Spherion Professional Services.

Right now, some employers are offering pay increases of 10% to 15% or bonuses to keep their tech staff, Fanzo says. Yet at the same time, employers are telling their tech people to stick around because there aren't jobs out there. "Employers are sending mixed messages," and techies are trying to make sense of them, Fanzo says. Bottom line: "Employers don't want to lose their talent."

The last time techies began getting raises and bonuses to stay at their jobs, the bubble didn't last. "IT people are hard to gauge, so anything that happens, they're leery about," Fanzo says.

A separate survey released this week by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology found that IT pros can expect to receive average raises of 2.8% in 2007, but hot talent such as software developers could see their base pay jump by an average of 5.1%.

Other hot IT jobs include project managers, who'll get an average pay hike of about 4.1%, and Web developers and data warehouse managers, who can expect raises of about 4.2% in 2007, according to the Robert Half Technology survey.

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