High-Tech Jobs Dwindle, But The Worst May Be Over

The AeA, a trade group, says 234,000 technology jobs will be wiped out this year, an improvement from 540,000 lost jobs in 2002.
There's bad news and good news for out-of-work technology professionals.

The bad news is that the high-tech industry lost 540,000 jobs in 2002, according to a new study by technology industry organization AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association. Those lost jobs reflect all occupations--ranging from sales and marketing personnel to computer programmers--at high-tech companies, including vendors, service providers, component manufacturers, and telecom companies.

However, the AeA study and another new survey by online job-recruitment services firm Dice Inc. indicate that the worst may be over. The Dice survey of 300 companies shows that 72% plan to increase their tech hiring during the next six months, compared with only 23% a year ago.

Meanwhile, the AeA study projects that "only" 234,000 high-tech-sector jobs will be lost in 2003, a decline of 57% over 2002. The AeA estimates that the high-tech sector will employ 5.75 million workers by the end of this year, down from 6.5 million in 2001.

The AeA's study did not examine the role offshore outsourcing might've played in those job losses, says Christopher Novak, AeA's assistant director of research. However, more than half of the job losses between 2001 and 2002 came from electronics manufacturing companies. The software and communication-services sectors each lost 146,000 jobs. Engineering and tech-services companies shed 15,000 jobs. However, R&D and testing labs added 7,000 in 2002.

Although the Dice survey didn't ask which IT positions companies were looking to fill, overall 88% of respondents said they were searching for "experienced professionals," as opposed to more junior-level employees. Also, a Dice spokesman says the government and health-care sectors are among those most aggressively hiring. In government, he says, "security clearance" is a very hot credential for IT professionals."

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