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United States The Almighty Buck IT

Tech Employment Drops Sharply In 2004 557

Cryofan writes "According to Information Week, the lastest Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that the number of Americans calling themselves IT professionals has decreased by nearly 160,000 in the last 3 years, and the number of programmers, analysts, and support specialists has fallen 15% since the first six months of 2004. According to IT World, the number of employed Software Engineers fell by 15% from April to July of 2004 (from 856,000 to 725,000)."
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Tech Employment Drops Sharply In 2004

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @07:54AM (#9912673)
    This is what happens when you people give away the fruits of your labor for free. You can't blame anyone but yourselves for this.

    Microsoft and others were right about OSS. It destroys jobs and is flatly Un-American.

    You people have reaped what you sowed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:16AM (#9912732)
      Yes, FOSS has been around for years, but suddenly it is the cause of job losses - not institutional corruption that has gone unchecked, manipulation of energy market prices which can easily cause the economy to tank (1972 US, or more recently the California economy trashed so that Enron could make some fast money), not downsizing and outsourcing in the financial section after 9/11 and the sector wide corruption at the top of those businesses from the S&L "crisis" to the only partially told truth about illegal trading now.

      Was there a big loss in jobs when Sun came into existence and decided to make cheap (compared to the rest of the players in that market at the time) workstations and small servers with off the shelf parts instead of proprietary, custom stuff?

      Did the release of perl 5 cause the numbers of programmers to drop signficantly?

      New versions of BLAST cause a sudden drop in programmers doing genetic work?

      LLNL releasing some mathematics libraries tank the engineering software market?
    • This is no joke! I think the "Free Software Movement" is a terrible one for people who want to make a living programming; especially very small companies.

      Bascially, little 1-3 person software shops, writing little utilities, are now expected to give their software away for free!

      All "Free Software" has done is made a few companies, very very big, and put all the little guys out of business.

      • Free software is opening the market up for the little 1-3 software shop.

        A company says it needs a specialised software built for there company. Years ago this would have required big $$$ and for most companies it wouldn't be worth the expense. Now a small company can take an open source program that gets them 80% of the way to the solution and then customise it exclusive for the business. The overall cost of the solution is much less, the company has a package customised exactly for them.

        I know people who
    • Actually, it seems quite possible that open source might help the job market. Back during "The Bubble," it was amazing how much money companies were willing to spend for marginal results. Now budgets are lower and expectations are higher. Open source can help programmers do more with less, which they may need to do to survive.
  • OR... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @07:56AM (#9912679) Journal
    Could it be that IT professionals have moved up in organizations, and are now VPs, and such, thus they may not consider themselves IT when in fact they are, just with better titles? This is the case for me, where I started out being the only IT guy 10 years ago, and now considered more, but still doing IT work as well.

    I don't really call myself an "IT Professional", even though I run the network, and in the middle of producing new applications for the business. I am sure this is not all of it, but I can't help but think its not all doom and gloom.
    • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:11AM (#9912716)
      A company that sacks 500 programmers needs 500 more VPs to manage all those progra... oh wait that doesn't make sense at all!

      I think you'll find the CIO calls himself an IT professional too, and that you are the exception rather than the rule in calling yourself non "IT Professional".

      Even if it does represent people climbimg the corporate ladder, its not a ladder, its a pyramid with fewer jobs higher up than lower down.

      So even then, it would represent fewer jobs.
    • Re:OR... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're on crack. Or you really are a manager. 160,000 are now in management? Are now clerks? Are now some other shit-shuffling position?

      Or maybe they went back to school. Or they went to other fields after management racheted up the IT industry to insane levels during the Boom and then vomited them out saying it was "a normal business cycle" whilst giving themselves bigger and bigger corporate bonuses.
    • AND (Score:5, Interesting)

      by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:51AM (#9912822) Journal

      I've noticed that IT skills are now necessary requirements for roles in other areas. Employers are less often looking for just a programmer, but a statistician who can program, or a physics graduate who can program, or a graphic designer who...

      Where once you would have hired a programmer to implement the specialist's work, you now expect the specialist to comprise the IT specialist's role as well.

      I'm currently doing some work in data analysis, but they want me to do the SQL work on the databases myself (the cheek of it!)

      That point made though, I don't think this accounts for major falls in IT work availability. I think if there are such falls then they are more a result the market being flooded with muppets who think they can program (done the correspondence or the nightschool course) and that less and less work is needing to be done from scratch. We have MS Office, we have Postnuke, we have Dreamweaver templates and anything else you might want, requiring only the barest customization.

      My advice is to get good at a supplementary field (maths is always good) and get yourself into something that requires more skill than the college course kid can fake in an interview. Go for jobs with people who take things seriously, not the ones who are looking for someone cheap and can't tell the difference between you and the muppet.
      • I've been telling people this for at least the last 3 years or so! The I.T. industry is basically "melting down" into a skillset employers just expect you to have, coupled with another skillset they claim to be hiring you for.

        I watched it happen at a previous job, where the engineering staff were told to start picking up books on Visual Basic and Java programming, and actually started spending half of each week working along-side our software development team. Those who didn't show interest in "playing a
  • by Treebiter1 ( 646407 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @07:56AM (#9912680)
    ...everyone is losing their jobs in nice, whole numbers. Keeps the statistics nice and pretty that way.
  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hsoft ( 742011 )
    These 160 000 must have been people who were there for the money, and when they saw it didn't pay *that* much, they dropped.

    Thus, the percentage of real enthusiasts among IT people must have raised.
  • a few remarks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:00AM (#9912689) Journal
    - during the dotcom, a lot of folks called themselves 'IT professionals' but were hardly anything like it at all.

    - the number of it-pro's itself is completely irrelevant : maybe they learned something new and make a living now. What counts is the percentage of unemployed it-pros versus all it-pros, and the number of unemployed it-pro's versus the global unemployment percentage

    summary : this article doesn't mean shit.
    • Re:a few remarks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tyrantnine ( 768028 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:14AM (#9912728)
      "and the number of programmers, analysts, and support specialists has fallen 15% since the first six months of 2004. According to IT World, the number of employed Software Engineers fell by 15% from April to July of 2004 (from 856,000 to 725,000)."

      These numbers are regarding the first 6 months of 2004, and April-July 2004 respectively. Did just experience another layoff? The boom has been over for some time -- I'd surmise these lost jobs had zero to do with the boom being over. I think the self-reassuring comments about "Well these are all Devry grads" or "These were just holdovers from 2000" can be just about completely put to rest, sorry folks.
    • RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AaronLuz ( 559686 )

      The answer to your question is in the second sentance of the article:

      Despite fewer workers within the profession, the IT unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the beginning of the millennium.

      Read further and you will see the breakdowns by job category. Some are in more demand. Others, such as systems analysts like me, are in less demand. The net effect is an increase in the number of unemployed who call themselves computer professionals. If they had learned another trade - or had jobs - they would

    • by Anonymous Coward
      in the 30's. After all, the majority of people did have work. Did they all go around thinking that all those unemployed people were that way due to their own faults.

      I think a lot of this is just self denial, a way of psychologically dealing when bad things happen to other people that could just have well happened to you. You just tell yourself that you're different and that can't happen to you. Ask any outplacement counselor and they will tell you that one of the big problems is people going into sh

    • Re:a few remarks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by costas ( 38724 )
      I think reality is much more uncomfortable than these explanations: the late '90s boom essentially invented or expanded several new markets (e-commerce, high speed networking, web content delivery, etc). People rushed into these new markets (hence the stock-market boom and wild speculation), and they did so with primitive tools and knowledge. Almost a decade later now (9 yrs from the Netscape IPO this month) our tools have matured, and more importantly, after the bust they are now affordable.

      After the wi
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moth7 ( 699815 ) <mike DOT brownbill AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:00AM (#9912691) Journal
    According to Information Week, the lastest Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that the number of Americans calling themselves IT professionals has decreased by nearly 160,000 in the last 3 years.

    In other news, the number of IT professionals getting laid has increased, mainly due to lying about their geek stereotyped profession ;-)
    • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:06AM (#9912706) Homepage Journal
      But since economic factors can take years to drag out, maybe it was all the measures the Republican president put in place that improved things a few years later when a Democrat was in power?
      • FDR and Truman were in power for 20 years, and got pretty good job growth, so I'm not sure how long range you're thinking?
        • FDR and Truman were wartime presidents during the biggest international conflict in which the US has ever been involved. The sheer vastness of the technological improvements brought about by the war were in large part responsible for economic strength at that time.

      • by Thangodin ( 177516 ) < minus pi> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @01:30PM (#9914072) Homepage
        There is a neo-con strategy called "Starve the Beast," whose goal is nothing less than to push the government to near bankruptcy so that it is incapable of governing. The rationale is that this will force the government into laissez-faire policies. Bush's slash and spend policies are in line with this policy, rather than the traditional policies of conservatives, which is to match tax cuts with spending cuts.

        But even the traditional policy can lead to disaster. Infrastructure requires constant maintenance. Think of a loose shingle on your roof. Replacing it will cost 50 dollars. If you leave it, the others around will will also come loose. Now you have to spend 500 dollars to fix it. Let this go, and you suffer water damage. $5000 to replace that section of the roof. Ignore this, and the water may get into the house, into the wiring, and cause a fire. Then you lose the whole house. Costs delayed are costs increased. Ignore the state of your highways, power grid, environment, etc, and the costs that you incur when you can no longer ignore it will be crippling.

        The danger of 'Starve the Beast' should be obvious. The economy runs on the rails of infrastructure provided by the government; highways, police, courts, regulations which protect business as well as prevent unfair practices, etc. Without the ability to do this, capitalism itself will collapse. Corporations are, first and foremost, legal entities sanctioned by government authority. Their very existence is made possibly by the efficacy of government. And we haven't even touched on the military yet. A bankrupt federal government will mark the end of America as a Superpower. All of this is why large numbers of old school conservatives are furious with Bush.

        I still haven't touched on the liberal arguments against what Bush is doing. Those who have little money left over after necessities pay a much larger proportion of their income in taxes, through sales tax. There is no tax on securities and stocks, and the financial slight of hand that uses tax shelters is available only to those with a large surplus of capital. When Henry Ford paid his workers an unheard of amount of money for common labourers, he created a large working middle class, with disposable income which allowed them to buy the products of their own labour. This rendered obsolete what was probably the only legitimate claim of Karl Marx: that when workers could no longer buy the products of their own labour, the markets would collapse. The result of Ford's policy eventually spread to most of the American working class, creating the most powerful economic dynamo the world has ever seen. The decline of the middle and working classes make the pie smaller for everyone. The rich may get richer for while, but they will be fewer in number. It is only a matter of time before they feel the pinch. The wolf that grows fat on the poor will soon go after bigger prey.

        Both the long term and the short term consequences of Bush's policies are disastrous. It doesn't matter what your political affiliation is. It may be disastrous for the Democrats if they win, because they will inherit such a mess that it will be hard to wow the crowd. America cannot afford four more years of Bush. And even the conservatives are beginning to realize this.
    • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:37AM (#9912987) Homepage
      Largely the same thing can be said about Stock Market returns: higher under Democrats, lower under Republicans. ,,113806,00.html?CN=NSC123 []

    • One could also point out the correlation between America's major wars in the last century and Democratic administrations -- WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam. Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy/LBJ. So does that mean the Dems should get the 'credit' for wars that cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans? Or is it possible all these correlations don't actually mean much?
    • I saw a chart recently of the national debt over time. It was more or less under a trillion until 1980 or so, then it just rose and rose and rose and rose, until Clinton, where there was a genuine inflection point, then after 2000, the chart just went off the scale. It was really quite dramatic. And, I should mention, I'm not a Democrat in the slightest. I just don't understand presidential politics when charts like this counter the party lines. I wonder if it is better to have a Democratic figurehead
  • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:03AM (#9912702)
    by education levels. Are the programmers who were laid off college educated or did they take, "ITT teaches you how to write a web page and use visual baisc" type programmers? Is there demand for a masters/phd? The numbers probably mean very little of themselves without a breakdown of who is employed/unemployed. Maybe demand for college graduates has increased, but demand for Devry/ITT flunkies has plummetted. Hard to tell.....
    • I'm amazed! The first comment I expected see on /. was that this is all due to outsourcing to India!

      I have to agree with the parent. Lot of people who were never qualified to do tech jobs aren't doing them anymore because the companies realised that they aren't value for money.

      I wouldn't expect great demand for MSc./PhD. qualifications, just because I think that 3 years of CS theory is more than enough for any IT job. What you then need is experience. This not to say that PhD. is not useful for R&D pe
  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:04AM (#9912703) Homepage
    It doesn't really surpise me. Y2k is long gone and, frankly, there's been no huge advances in desktop IT in the entire period.

    Most computers are being used in offices and in homes. These are folk who, three years ago could get a PIII 700 running Win2k and Office. What reason do thy have to upgrade? What new features are on offer?

    Hardware may be moving with leaps and bound, but at the desktop application level we aren't seeing that sort of progress. Nonetheless, things like 64bit computing with faster processors and obscene quantities of RAM will open up real-time desktop video editing to the masses - that might see a whole wave of upgrades. VOIP might see some big changes to POTS, but only if it can offer something new to encourage folk to upgrade. And, of course, we still haven't seen reliable speech processing, possibly the killer app but is there really a huge improvement from ViaVoice of 1999 to the software on the market today.

    Frankly there's no reason to upgrade, and unless there is there's going to be a dwindling source of jobs in a consolidated market.

    • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:13AM (#9912723) Journal
      What reason do thy have to upgrade? What new features are on offer?

      Some of the new viruses require at least a 1.5ghz processor ;)

      But yea, my mom doesn't need anything faster for email and web surfing. She has a 2.0 Celeron box from Dell that I bought her (live 1300 miles away, wanted the support for her) so she is not likely to need anything faster until it dies. The only reason "regular" people upgrade is for games. Hell, I went and upgraded my video card yesterday just to play Doom3.

      The problem with computers isn't speed, its software. I setup a webserver to talk to my X10 modules here at the house, so I can turn lights on and off from anywhere in the world. I had to patch together all kinds of software to make this happen, as I haven't seen any packages that could do everything my kludge of packages can do. Home automation doesn't need powerful computers, it needs software. We are underutilizing the hardware we already have.

      Part of this problem, of course, is the fact that manufacturers will not agree on standards for appliances to talk to each other. Each demanding a proprietary system, thinking it will protect them, when it only makes the irrelevent. This is one of the reasons I am pro-OSS, as open standards are what will bring us the really cool software that we could have run on P3/500s had it existed at the time.
    • All new technolgies that catch on go through this S shaped curve. At first the gowrth is slow. Then it accelerates. We see phenominal growth rates for a while. There is often an economic bubble associated with this rapid growth. Then we reach saturation where the new technology as penetrated most of the places where it makes sense. The bubble bursts and the party is over.

      We saw this with railroads in the 1800s, Radio and Automibiles in the 1920's and now computers at the end of the 20th century.

  • by fpga_guy ( 753888 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:05AM (#9912705)
    Am I unreasonable to see a lot of this as an overdue correction in the IT labour market? For a while here in Australia at least it seemed that someone with a 6 week vocational computing course could earn $50K+ doing front-line support. That wasn't a realistic or sustainable situation, and is certainly not reflected in any other industry I can think of.
    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:28AM (#9912761)
      No that is part of the problem. Back in the 90's IT Professionals got greedy. And they scared managers with buzz words like e-business, http, Y2k, and a bunch of other stuff. A lot of stuff with very easy to do and could be done by anyone with a 2 week course. So as time went on and people learned how to do these things with out the help of an IT staff. And started laying off IT staff unfortunately they grouped all IT into (same with the internet businesses they labeled them all as tech companies, I am sorry is a pet store not a tech company!) one area. So even if you are a system administrator and have been keeping the place running for 30 years you got laid off with Mr. HTML only programmer. So now the the economy is starting to turn a bit they realized that they cut all the fat and a bit to much of the lean as well, Unfortunately some companies don't realize this and that is why they are getting problems left and right combined with aging hardware and no real IT support to help with long term management of the IT. But a lot of them are starting to realize this now and letting some of the IT people back. It wont be like in the 90s with a programmer can get 100k a year or 50k out of collage. It will balance with the rest of the other industries out of collage a good job at 30k-35k and maybe you can get up to 50k after 5 years or so. which is a honest wage. The 90s were a blip in the economy and some people knew it so the took advantage of it while it was there but a lot figures that this will be there for ever (Kida like I told them what they said back in the 1920s) and they took advantage of the economy too but they didn't plan for slow times and then they just fell off the face of the earth.
      • by bstarrfield ( 761726 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:53AM (#9913044)

        Yeah, some people got greedy. But so what? For all the people on slashdot happily talking about how this "correction" is just a part of the glories of Capitalism: laborers have just as much of a right to be greedy as managers.

        Look at the realities of many IT jobs, perhaps nearly all of them:

        • You're expected to work far in excess of 40 hours per week. Just as an example, for six months I was working over 70 hours per week, week after week.
        • You're actually on-call, even when you're not working. If the website goes down, even the lowly HTML programmer can be called up at 2:00 AM to help fix it.
        • You're required to have up-to-date skills, and no every new technology your managers can think of.
        • As a developer, you have to take bad business ideas and translate them into working software.

        And the list goes on. I was up till 1:00 last night (yeah, Saturday night but my wife was working next to me), working on learning Smalltalk. I won't be compensated for it, its part of the job. Is there anything wrong with thinking, gee, even though its part of the job, I should be paid for the extra time I spend learning?

        IT workers may have been greedy, but not as greedy as management. Why should someone with an undergraduate Human Resources degree, limited hours, very little need to learn new skills, etc. earn the same amount of money as a programmer who has to do the above list?

        Managers became afraid that finally, a group of educated and independant individuals were entering the work force and demanding to be paid what they worth. The nerds had entered the palace! And now, managers are delighted because the nerds are on the run... things are back to the way they should be, with accountants, mid-level managers, human resources staff, and others earning more than those geek-ass goobers.

        • by LuxFX ( 220822 )
          Look at the realities of many IT jobs, perhaps nearly all of them: working in excess of 40 hours per week, being on-call, needing up-to-date skills, having to take bad business ideas and translate them into working software.... And the list goes on. I was up till 1:00 last night, working on learning Smalltalk. I won't be compensated for it

          I'd like to see some statistics that include self-employeed IT. Several of my peers and co-workers from before/during the burst made it through only by working freelanc
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:09AM (#9912714)
    I know a lot of former coworkers who have lost their job in the last year or two, and almost half of them are no longer doing tech work. Is it because the market is that bad? No, its because they were hired into technology even though they were underqualified during the tech boom, and now that its over and there isn't insane market pressure to hire anyone who can string lines of code together they've moved on.

    I'd suspect thats the biggest group of people no longer in IT. I have most visibility in design and software development these days, but I'm sure the same is true for network/system administration.

    There's not necessarily anything wrong with it, either. Most of the people I've known who did the major career shift after being layed off are much happier now. In a market where the people getting the jobs are reasonably qualified, its got to be hard to go to work knowing you can't really do what you need to well.
    • I'm a former Northwest Airlines applications programmer/analyst with a BSCS and 15 years of pretty solid experience who has been looking for a new permanent place to work for over 2.5 years now, and my local area (the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro) has had a number of large companies lay off a large number of people over the past few years including my former employer (NWA), Unisys (which has a heavy airline/mainframe presence in the Twin Cities), Lawson, IBM, Qwest, Verizon, and a number of others.

      In the case of NWA, many IT people were laid off based on the organization or project they were affiliated with, and whole trees of people were lopped off from the manager on down. I know several folks who I considered top-quality techie types who were let go in October 2001 because they had moved to a project that was more technically interesting or high-profile a few years ago, but which was considered a non-critical project by management in the post-9/11 airline environment).

      In other cases (such as in my case), cuts were made based purely on seniority, and my 13 years put me on the bottom of the ladder compared to the remaining folks I was working with in Flight Operations (I survived the major IT cuts in late 2001 only to find myself nickel-and-dimed out a few months later when we all thought it was over).

      Given the experience level of my peers I was a logical choice, at least by that measure, but I'll frankly put my general level of technical acumen against anyone here. Or there, for that matter. :-)

      Unfortunately, that wasn't the measurement used. Ability rarely factors into such choices, as two layoffs in the past 15 years have taught me, particularly when the layoff parameters are being determined mainly by bean counters rather than technical management.

      With such a glut in unemployed techie folks in the local area, many of them quite senior, it's hard for someone with only 10-15 years of experience to get any sort of contract work because there are a fair number of 20-30 year people also laid off who are now competing for a much smaller number of positions. And contract work is almost all there is. A few firms seem to be hiring real permanent employees, but competition is so fierce that one has to be an almost perfect tech-skill+line-of-business match in order to get a first-level interview.

      I know several folks who have roughly my experience level who are still out of work after more than a year, and it sure isn't due to a lack of technical ability or a lack of effort. From what I can tell, it's mainly due to a large number of people seeking a small number of positions, and to an increasing tendency for companies to require more and more specialized business and technical skillsets even for general IT positions.

      The folks who have "left IT" according to common statistical measures are a mix of all types.

      Some fit the stereotype of being "less skilled" or interested only in the financial aspects of an IT career, and I'm in agreement with those who say "good riddance" to such folks, but there are probably at least as many others who are hard-core bit twiddlers or talented designers or whatnot who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who are finding it difficult to obtain employment in IT at a time when companies are hiring specialized short-term contractors in lieu of more generalized long-term employees.

      When an IT position isn't available, and when the six months or so of unemployment runs out, a former IT person has to do *something* in order to make ends meet. In my case, it will probably end up driving a truck or doing some sort of generic office work so I can continue to pay the bills.

      That doesn't make me any less interested in IT, and I'll still be looking when I'm not working at a lesser position, but for statistical purposes I'll have dropped off the radar and will no longer count as an unemployed IT position. It's a very misleading statistic...

      If this comes across as a bi

      • Have you considered teaching?

        If so, I think We [] are looking for pt computer science instructors. It beats driving a truck. :/ Drop me a line, one of our adjuncts is a software analyst by day, maybe he knows something you might be interested in, I would hate to see a fellow minnesotan and slashdotter go hungry ;).

        ctown at inverhills dot edu
    • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @02:22PM (#9914352) Homepage
      This is pretty contemptible by my experience. Most of my friends and acquantances who were laid off, some of whome have stayed unemployed for quite some time, were very senior with excellent records. I can't speak for the number of script kiddie equivalents out there as those aren't the folks I hang with. But just waving off the bad news claimin that those who lost jobs and did not find new ones weren't acceptable software geeks is a convenient self-assuring fantasy that it can't happen to you.

      A lot of commercial software work can be done by any available labor pool with good skills and good work habits. So guess what? Many of the jobs are going to the cheaper labor pools producing acceptable results. Thi is a logical outcome of global free trade. Combine that with an extremely bad market and you have more than sufficient explanation for what we are seeing. Add in a seriously anti science and anti-technology administration and there is no need to posit that all those left jobless simply weren't worthwhile hackers to start with.

      The above is not "informative". It is the old blame the victim and assume we the employed are so much better than that. It assumes that having a job is some kind of statement of moral worth or software savvy.
  • This is seaonally adjusted.

    It peaked March 2001 at 3,718,000
    It's now 3,170,000.

    Data []
  • Every script kiddie will call himself "IT professional". A real pro knows how much knowledge is ahead of him and how little they posess, so they don't dare to say "I know it all"...
  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:20AM (#9912743)
    They are really baffled by the drop in unemployment concurrent with a drop in jobs. I think that quite a few people simply said: "Do I want to make lousy wages working 80 hour weeks in a high-stress deadline-driven environment? Or I could work 40 hours a week as a plumber and make more money? Hmm..."
  • I consider myself a geek, but have taken a functional title in my workplace. The work I do is still quite technical, but I now supervise a (tiny) staff and have some management responsibilities. I am more involved in the "line of business" but definitely not divorced from geekly things. This gives me the two important things: knowledge of this business and of my workplace I wouldn't have as a "strict" geek, and the abandonment of a title that carries the stench of death associated with the fact that at any
  • .... is that bits and bytes don't deteriorate, but only can be made obsolete with newer hardware technology and that has a limit to, as far as the consumer market goes (typically the gaming industry is where to look for advancements)

    There is also programming techniques, languages etc. that make things easier and easier to develop. The dot net core technology for example is a sum of the majority of programming concepts and data types put together in a non-conflicting manner, so that any language created to
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:40AM (#9912794)
    "Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they hide is vital."
    - unknown
  • by ggruschow ( 78300 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @08:57AM (#9912842)
    The articles themselves seem excessively alarmist, and the slashdot summary is of course much worse.

    The plausible stats I saw were:

    • A 4.5% decline in the IT labor force since the peak in 2001. (IW article)
    • IT unemployment currently around 5.5%, down from 6% recently, and up from 3% in 2000-2001. (IW article)
    • "The overall number of people employed in computer-related occupations in the U.S. dropped by about 9,000 people from the first to second quarter." (IT article)
    A lot of the other stats are based on random labelling of people (e.g. "computer programmer" vs "computer analyst" vs "software engineer".. the IW articles cites an 8% increase in the latter), and a relatively small sample. If nothing else, the reported 60% increase in IT managers should tell you something about these surveys.

    If we're just going for shock-the-readers headlines based on these stats, try this one:

    InformationWeek reports that according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there's now one manager to every 1.85 computer programmers. At current rates, managers will outnumber programmers in a few years.

    (InformationWeek reports 341k managers vs 632k computer programmers.. but that report based upon those numbers is obviously misleading.)

  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:02AM (#9912860) Homepage Journal
    The folks I work with stopped calling me an IT professional some time last year... using instead the more apt term "IT Asshole".

    Burn-out does that to you.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:17AM (#9912901)
    Bottom line: the job situation in IT is absolutely awful. A lot of educated and experienced professionals can not find decent work. Take a look at the job boards, companies are asking for a list of requirements a mile long, and paying a janitor's salary.

    I can't believe anybody has the gall to print these alarmist "BSCS graduate numbers are declining!" articles. Companies don't want BSCS's they want slave labor. Such labor can be in the form of:

    1) H1B visas
    2) Jobs exported overseas
    3) USA citizens forced to work for reduced wages.

    I wish I had the fore-sight to go to law school and specialize in IP litigation, that is going to be where the money is. Instead of making money by being productive and/or innovative, we'll all make money be suing each other.

    I'm open to any career change suggestions. I have a degrees in math and business. But it's been a long time. I've worked in IT for 24 years. There is a lot I like about IT. But, it gets old being treated like a dog to kick around.
    • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian&wylfing,net> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:20AM (#9913168) Homepage Journal
      Companies don't want BSCS's they want slave labor.

      But perhaps the most interesting question is why they are at such a rush for cheap labor. I think blaming "the competition" (i.e., India) is not quite right, and long-winded rants about Reaganomics are really missing the mark. A widespread job market crunch toward the bottom of the wage stack cannot be caused so easily by an American president giving a tax refund.

      It's actually the same force that causes companies to be so keen on DRM. There are too few corporations that are too large in size. They don't have normal routes to growth in the marketplace and so they must use "monopoly growth" strategies -- so instead of competing for customers they compete to lower wages, or compete to raise barriers to market entry.

      There is probably nothing that can address downward-spiraling wages other than breaking up the monolithic corporations that have gobbled up so much of the economy.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:24AM (#9912927) Homepage Journal
    Paul Craig Roberts was one of the architects of supply side economics under Reagan. He's having some serious misgivings about all this deficit spending and globalization -- 20 years too late unfortunately.

    A Colossus With Weak Knees []

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    If George Bush [] and John Kerry [] were aware of the problems that await the next president, they would be vying to throw the election, not to win it.

    Job loss at home and failure abroad have already written the script which will sweep away the next administration.

    Recession could return by the inauguration before the economy ever regains the jobs lost to the 2001 recession. Second quarter 2004 economic growth came in 20% less than expected. The consumer is showing weakness, and crude oil prices have reached record highs. [] Personal savings remain low by historical standards.

    On August 3 the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that seasonally adjusted real per capita incomes declined in June to levels below those reached in April. Total personal real spending declined 0.9% in June to the level of last February.

    As the Bureau of Labor Statistics made clear in its July 30 report, the US economy is suffering not only from weak job growth but also from a loss of better paying jobs.

    Only 65% of the 5.3 million workers who were laid off from long term jobs [] during the first three years of President Bush's administration were reemployed by January 2004. That means only about 3.5 million of the 5.3 million laid off workers were able to find new jobs during two years of economic recovery.

    Of those who found new jobs, 57%--about 2 million workers--took jobs paying less than their previous positions. About 1.2 million of the workers who found new jobs experienced pay cuts of 20% or more.

    It is really disturbing that this job loss may have occurred in the absence of a recession. The conventional definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. However, on July 30 the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the revised GDP data for 2001, and the recession, as conventionally measured, has disappeared. The revised data does not show two consecutive negative quarters, and for 2001 the economy grew 0.8%. Did we experience not only a job loss recovery [], but also a job loss nonrecession?

    There was no recession in the second quarter of this year, but BLS data show 131,000 fewer American computer software engineers employed in the second quarter than in the first quarter of 2004--a decline of 15% in three months. Employment of computer scientists and systems analysts declined by 51,000 in the second quarter. Employment of computer programmers fell 16,000.

    Despite the horrendous job loss, the unemployment rates for software engineers, computer scientists and programmers fell, which suggests that technical professionals are discouraged [] and have ceased to search for jobs in their occupations.

    The decline in high-tech professions in the US is also reflected in the collapse in computer engineering enrollments in America's premier engineering schools. Over the past several years, M.I.T., Georgia Tech, and UC Berkeley have experienced computer engineering enrollment declines [] of 43%.

    More unprecedented bad news comes from the Internal Revenue Service. For the first time ever, the real incomes of Americans shrank for two consecutive years. In 2002 Americans repor

    • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:13AM (#9913142)
      I know this will be marked as reduntdant, but this is seriously the most insightful thing I have ever read on /.
      Unfettered free trade is not helping this country, mainly because it isn't free trade. China wants to send stuff to the US, but has no interest in buying US products. Besides the obvious under-valued currency, there are also a lot of other barriers to US goods in the Chinese market. There are huge tariffs and quotas on everything imported into China from the US. If the US tried to impose these quotas on China, China would scream bloody murder at the WTO. In order to even sell stuff in the Chinese market, you have to make a large percent of it in China, and transfer a lot of technology to the Chinese government.
      Why is the US standing idly by you ask? Because our leaders don't give a shit about you and I. The huge tax cust is funded China is buying a large amount of the US deficit. We are esentially borrowing from China to buy Chinese goods and making a lot of influential people in Washington very rich.
      This is a country who's top general said as recently as 1996 that war with the US was inevitable.
      The US is losing the war on communism with Wal-Mart leading the charge!
      • Your point, while likely to be labeled xenophobic, is largely right. The other thing to remember about the Chinese is that they maintain an artificial exchange rate by pegging their currency to ours. They have resisted all of our overtures thus far to let their currency float up and down like most others to keep the exchange rate down and their products cheap. Their claim that they are a poor country consisting mostly of subsistence farmers is true but it's a red herring. As you rightly point out, the C
  • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:41AM (#9913004) Homepage Journal
    I've decided to just run a cash register and be poor. It was good enough for my grandfather.

    Nothing wrong with the rest of the people, I'm just not very good at being whatever-it-you-call it. Successful. Evil. Whatever. I'm over 30 now and through with programming as a profession or even giving a shit what happens in the industry.

    I'm content to be a hobbyist dinking with Linux at night from now on and being a total Rodney Dangerfield. I'd rather just be poor.
  • by nutznboltz ( 473437 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @09:44AM (#9913009) Homepage Journal
    By now you've all been told how MicroSoft makes all of it's profits on Windows and things like the X-Box are just money losers running as place-holders at the company's expense.

    Well oil is to the world economy what Windows is to MicroSoft. Oil is turned into fertilizer [] so all high-carbohydrate crops and the livestock that feed on them are just an "X-Box" from an economic viewpoint.

    All transportation, manufacturing, etc. are also 100% dependent on enegy from fossile fuels. All plastics, nylon, etc are made directly from oil.

    When oil prices go up it's like Windows ceasing to be the "money printing press" for MicroSoft. The net effect is that the whole world is made poorer.
  • by Gigantic1 ( 630697 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:04AM (#9913089)

    Face it, Your Boss is a Rat

    Who REALLY moved your cheese and why!

    By: John Shepler

    If you think something smells rotten in corporate America, you're right. It's a foul aroma wafting in from the executive suites, where the rats are jumping for joy at the success of their latest manifesto, "Who Moved My Cheese?", subtitled...get this, "An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and In Your Life."

    "We moved it," they squeal with delight, "and when we want to, we'll move it again." Why? Very simple. Management has discovered that moving or removing YOUR cheese can be quite advantageous to them. But they've known that for a more than a decade. What they've just begun to realize is that it's possible to sell employees on the idea that this is perfectly OK. I'll elaborate, but first let me tell you how it all began.

    It Takes Only a Minute

    Management has a Holy Grail and it is known as "the silver bullet," also called the quick fix. It's epitomized in a small, thin book called "The One Minute Manager" by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. (piled higher and deeper) and Spencer Johnson, M.D. (mostly deeper.) The theme of "The One Minute Manager" is that business people, especially managers, spend way too much time mulling over problems, internalizing them, and debating on what to do next. Much better, proposed Blanchard and Johnson, to jump in, collect all the facts that are at your fingertips or can be coaxed out of your subordinates, and make a snap decision in one minute or less. Actually, the primary decision is which employees can best be made to take ownership of the problem, strategically moving the burning acid of responsibility from your stomach to theirs. If things improve, you allocate no more than one more minute to tell them how great they are doing. If the situation deteriorates, you allocate that same minute to making darn sure that they feel terrible about it and will work even harder to keep the problem from returning to you.

    A Revolution in Business Thinking

    Think this is funny? It's revolutionary. The enabling power of one minute management has caused the entire Fortune 500 to refocus from the concept of stewardship, with a responsibility to the community that spans generations, to a slavish devotion to the needs of the institutional investor, primarily an increased stream of earnings every fiscal quarter. White-collar layoffs, almost unheard of prior to the 1980s, are now a standard tool of expense management. With only a minute needed for problem solving, the span of control for managers has increased as much as ten fold and the number of people assigned to non-producing supervisory functions proportionally reduced. Productivity, as measured by corporate earnings, soared to create the raging bull market of the 1990s. Johnson and Blanchard are lauded in corporate circles. But the emphasis on rapid decision making has led to shortened attention spans. It's already time for something new...

    The Big Cheese

    The toll of one minute everything is burning out once naive and eager employees, anxious for their leg up the corporate ladder. The abuses of ever increasing demands have created calluses of cynicism that are best portrayed in the characters of Scott Adams' Dilbert. Now everyone sees themselves as an oppressed Dilbert or Wally and adopts a passive/aggressive approach to corporate survival.

    Re-enter Johnson, sans Blanchard, with a new silver bullet, this one cleverly disguised as an irresistible morsel of cheese. And who can resist the power of cheese? It's a story that is designed once again to get the onus of action into the mind of the common employee. Without giving too much away, here's how it goes.

    It seems that there are two mice and two small people living in a maze. They dine on a seemingly endless supply of cheese provided by an unseen benevolent caretaker. All are complacent and happy with this scenario, until one day the cheese is gone. The mice shrug and take off down the corridors of the maze to find more

  • by acroyear ( 5882 ) <> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:41AM (#9913574) Homepage Journal
    sure shows the appropriateness of a recent political cartoon [] from Ben Sargent.
  • by ChrisWong ( 17493 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:45PM (#9913873) Homepage
    Too any job number comparisons are made to the last peak of 3-4 years ago. But that was the height of the bubble. That was the point where the industry was too crazy to sustain itself. Outrageous money was spent irresponsibly, qualified engineers were hard to find, classic measures of business sanity went out the window. We don't want to go there again. So if things don't look quite so rosy compared to those days, it's because we're not yet at the point of another dot-kablooie. So it's not like "the good old days"? Good.
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:55PM (#9913918) Homepage
    I had the distinct "pleasure" of working with a lot of people who should not have been let anywhere near a computer, let alone pretend to do anything useful with them. I am not the least surprised there's less people in the industry now.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.