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Survey: Tech Workers Had The Job Blues In May

Tech workers' job outlook is worse than it has been in more than a year. But IT workers tend to change their outlook --both up and down--often.
Job confidence among tech workers plummeted in May to the lowest levels since professional staffing and outsourcing firm Hudson began tracking employment-market optimism trends 18 months ago.

For the first time since Hudson launched its employment index in January 2004, IT worker job confidence fell below a base score of 100. In May, IT worker confidence scored 93.2, down 21 points since April. The company says the steep decline reflects increased concerns about job security, layoffs, personal finances, and hiring.

Twenty-eight percent of IT workers in May said they were nervous about losing their jobs. Also, only 28% of IT workers expected their organizations to increase hiring, down from 39% who anticipated their workforces to expand in April.

Through monthly telephone interviews, Hudson takes the employment-optimism pulse of about 9,000 workers and managers in several sectors, including finance and accounting, manufacturing, health care, and more than 500 tech professionals.

Tech workers weren't alone in their gloom. The national index representing all professionals fell 2.5 points in May to 99.9, also hitting a level below the base score of 100 for the first time. Manufacturing workers were the most pessimistic group, scoring 80.4 in May.

Overall, tech workers tend to represent "the most volatile of all sectors," says Vic Velevis, Hudson's director of IT and telecommunications practice. Since Hudson started its index, tech workers have had the bumpiest month-to-month highs and lows, he says. "We attribute this to everything they've gone through the last few years," from the tech boom of the late 1990s to dramatic IT budget cuts and outsourcing trends in the early 2000s.

Nonetheless, Hudson expects IT job confidence to rebound over the next month or so, Velevis says.

Contrasting the gloom among workers in all sectors, managers were considerably more optimistic. Overall, 35% of all managers expected that their organizations would hire in coming months. Private-sector tech managers predicted the most ambitious hiring, with nearly half expecting their organizations to add staff.

"This [anticipated hiring] might not be communicated to staff," Velevis says about the disparity between worker and manager optimism.

Among IT professionals, Velevis says, Hudson sees the strongest current hiring demand centering on developers, including SAP and Oracle software experts, as well as network security.

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