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Tech Unemployment Rising In Some Categories ( 182

Nerval's Lobster writes: The technology industry's unemployment rate crept up to 3.0 percent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although that represents an increase from the second quarter, when tech unemployment stood at 2.0 percent, it's nonetheless lower than the 5.2 percent unemployment rate for the U.S. labor market as a whole. Despite that relatively low rate, however, many technology segments saw an accompanying rise in joblessness. (Dice link) Web developers, for example, saw their collective unemployment rate hit 5.10 percent, up from 3.70 percent in the same quarter last year. Computer systems analysts, programmers, network and systems administrators, software developers, and computer & information systems managers likewise experienced a slight rise in unemployment on a year-over-year basis.
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Tech Unemployment Rising In Some Categories

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:45AM (#50824515)

    Great it's all going according to plan.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Quick, get more women into Tech, we need those unemployment number higher and their salaries lower!!

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:48AM (#50824543)
    ... why we need all those H1B visas: to bring tech unemployment more in line with US unemployment overall. Unemployment inequality affects us all.
    • by leed_25 ( 156309 )

      It is a strange thing that not one of the presidential candidates has even mentioned the H1B visa program.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:02AM (#50824653)

        Trump has many times, explaining how it takes jobs from US citizens. He has taken backlash from the media and other candidates for that position, but his poll numbers raised when he doubled down on that statement.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Also Bernie Sanders [].

          Sanders and Trump are the way to go. They're running as R and D, but they're very much opposed to the One Party.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:04AM (#50824673)

        Not true. Trump has come out against it [] as it currently stands, and has an elegant solution: require H-1Bs be paid more than market wages. That way, it's only cost-effective to hire an H-1B if you honestly need them.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You realize that that's already a requirement of getting an H1B visa, right?

        • Trump ... has an elegant solution: require H-1Bs be paid more than market wages. That way, it's only cost-effective to hire an H-1B if you honestly need them.

          No. That way it is cost effective to lower salaries so that no American citizens will take the jobs. Then you can fill the positions with H-1Bs.

          As an employer, I used to love the rule that H1-Bs had to be paid at least as much as Americans, because if an American asked for a raise, I could just tell them I couldn't increase their salary, because it was illegal to pay them more than the H1-Bs. So no raise for you! Heh heh.

        • require H-1Bs be paid more than market wages

          That's effectively already the rule; H-1B workers need to be paid at least "prevailing wage", which in practice makes them more expensive than American workers. Furthermore, the DOL makes prevailing wage determinations.

        • require H-1Bs be paid more than market wages. That way, it's only cost-effective to hire an H-1B if you honestly need them.

          It won't work, because there will be loopholes.
          Right now employers are required to pay H-1Bs market wages, but they don't, because there are loopholes.

          Right now you also need to prove that you can't hire anyone to do the job in America. To get around that, tell someone to interview every candidate that applies, even if there are 50-60 of them, and find a problem with each one of them. Simple.

          I like a lot of my Indian coworkers, but the H1-B program right now pushes down wages for everyone. It's not fa

          • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

            Right now you also need to prove that you can't hire anyone to do the job in America.

            That's incorrect, there is no such requirement at all. There IS a requirement to pay market wages which in theory should prevent employers from abusing the system, but in reality it's full of holes. Simply fixing the loopholes will go a long way towards curbing H1B abuse.

            • That's incorrect, there is no such requirement at all.

              Maybe you're right. A quick search through wikipedia didn't find anything for me. A lot of companies do post a job opening, though.

              Simply fixing the loopholes will go a long way towards curbing H1B abuse.

              I don't think there's a way to fix all the loopholes.

        • That's a clever dodge. Like those asshats who say they want to cut medicare for people under 60 so they don't lose votes from people on it. It's child's play to lower the prevailing wage. And you can chip away at how much more until it doesn't matter. Want to do business in America? Hire Americans. You can leave, but you don't get to take the ball.
      • by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:52AM (#50825073)
        Bernie Sanders has.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You realize that 3% unemployment is generally considered "none", right? 3% is the normal rate for people just switching jobs, and having a week or two off between gigs.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Did all those people taking a week off file for unemployment benefits? Because they usually use metrics like that to determine who is "unemployed".

        Which is also why people who have totally given up are also not considered in the unemployment metrics. Their unemployment has run out and they are no longer on the books.

      • 3% unemployment means that the average person will spend over a year of his or her career unemployed. That seems a bit high to me.

    • so FUCKING cynical!

    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      We need H1B for QUALIFIED workers. Unfortunately the US is full of a bunch of dipshits who installed Windows NT one time 20 years ago and call themselves "Systems Engineers".
      • As a Systems Engineer, I laugh at your jealousy. If you think that my job is so easy to do, then apply for it and show me how it is done. I have 15 years in the industry working with Unix, Linux, Windows server and desktop lines, including Exchange. I now design very large email systems and keep them secure. If you think people doing my job are so inexperienced and useless, come do the job instead. I am sure you will qualify for the job with your immense experience.

      • Because corporations got tired of having a training budget. The reason you can't compete with India is that they can live for peanuts while they're being trained. You can't do that because the US lacks their massive underclass, unpaid overtime and complete absence of environmental and worker safety laws.
    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      ... why we need all those H1B visas: to bring tech unemployment more in line with US unemployment overall. Unemployment inequality affects us all.

      Low unemployment is bad for businesses and strangles the economy.. It's hard to start a new business if you can't hire people for less than 200k.

      So true, nobody wants high unemployment rate (which is obviously also bad), but like everything in life there has to be a balance.
      Due to lack of social services in the US, I get that it is hard to accept that zero unemployment isn't a goal.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I dunno if this clarifies or muddies your point. Starting in 1992ish I was hiring traffic engineers at a pay rate of about $140k/year plus all the various benefits and bonuses. I suspect there was a near 0 rate of unemployment in the field as most of these had to also know a bit of CS and a bit of programming. We were certainly willing to train - we had to.

        Yet, when I look today, the unemployment rate is up - near 3% (a bit higher, from a quick search). The fucking median pay rate is less than half of what

  • Shoddy Workmanship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:53AM (#50824573)

    Web developers, for example, saw their collective unemployment rate hit 5.10 percent

    Doesn't surprise me. The declining quality of most modern websites would suggest that the industry has simply stopped hiring professionals altogether.

    • Well, after all, IT isn't a profession. A child could do it. Little Jimmy made a "pong" game just the other day. It was so cute!

      Because tech problems are all simple and don't need a whole lot of specialized training. All You Have To Do Is...

      • I would like to see Little Jimmy solve this problem with three different teams involved and less than a dozen emails: "Server is set up with a 40GB OS partition and an 200GB App partition on a single RAID-1 volume. OS partition is running out of space. How to resolve?"
    • by adosch ( 1397357 )

      Couldn't agree more. You can thank bootstrap + CMS for that crowd.

      And not just web development, but 'true' professionals all-around. So maybe this makes me appear pretentious, but I feel I work pretty hard to know all the tech hats I wear and do wherever I work that mix across all those specific job titles ITFA, but case in point: There's ALOT of self-proclaimed 'professionals' that are hobby-shop single-tech-specializers, one-dimensional in skills and horrible (I mean, HORRIBLE) at their job. It's no

      • Tell me a network-admin that doesn't need to know multiple OS's and their supporting TCP stack for tuning?
        Never heard about that. Any pointers how to increase performance on a Linux TCP stack?
        I did not know that I was required to know that.

        I also did not know that there are type of scripting/programming language (low or high-level) to be better and more efficient/effective ... what is a low level scripting language? What is a high level one?

        You sound like an IT manager who has no clue about IT.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a million underskilled overcertified people out there, and hiring managers/HR is only looking for resume buzzwords. If you're a skilled worker, and you lose your job, you're fighting in the mix with 99 other Jabronis for that 1 job. Unemployment is a real thing in IT.

    • That was my problem when I lost my last job. I spent 9 years at a company, steadily moving up, and then got cut in the unexpectedly. I knew my job, but had focused on job specific certs since the employer paid. When I hit the streets, the interviews I did get ended up with, so, do you have Security+, do you have ITIL?, do you have Network+. It didn't help that I was job hunting in a market that almost demanded a clearance I did not have and nobody wanted to pay for. It took 6 months and 350 mi move to get
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:01AM (#50824645)

    5% unemployment is close to a natural level in a healthy market. The fluctuation around tenths of a percentage points is mostly noise.

    • That's 5% in a normal market. The last ten years haven't been normal at all.
    • 5% is what they want you to think is "normal", since the great recession. That would not have been called normal 20 years ago. Nevermind that 5% in 2015 would be a lot larger if it was counted the same as it was in 1995.

  • Seems fitting ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:01AM (#50824651)

    It is, by very definition, our job to make ourselves superfluos.

    Example: I hardly code anymore.
    Part of my job constists of setting up WordPress with generic and special plugins. By now mostly automated so that a fresh project can be done by a PM with no clue about web-technologies in less that 10 minutes.

    My job now consists of writing requirements, talking to the tech people of our customers and checking the possibilities and the occasional CSS/JS/jQuery and/or PHP Hack to add some obscure special feature to a fresh or existing install. Plus I take care of backups - mostly automated too - and let the bosses know when it's a bad idea to approach project X with strategy Y instead of Z.

    Stuff that I do alone today needed 10-15 people 15 years ago. And I only still have work to do because LAMP, WP and all that other stuff is a historically grown technology mess from 2 decades ago. My coding part of the occupation is one smart crew and one MIT licences new-gen web-cms away from becoming totally pointless.

    We all know it:
    The tech-advancement curve is logarithmic.
    The robots are coming and they're taking most of the jobs.
    Our's aswell.
    The smart people have been predicting this for years. This isn't news at all.

    Let's just hope that those at the helm don't screw it up and we all can enjoy an utopia rather than some bizar cyberpunk corporate socialism nightmare.
    I personally am looking forward to a 15 hour workweek with still enough to eat and live from. ... I'm down to 25 hours/week already and it feels great.

    My 2 cents.

    • Pfft. I don't think automated software development is coming any time soon. At least not for any business problem of any complexity. I received a specification document from a government department the other day. It specifies that certain values in an XML request are mandatory but not required. Now, I know that probably means the request will fail if those values aren't supplied but that, even if they are supplied, they won't be used. Or that they will be used under certain undocumented circumstances. Maybe
      • by ranton ( 36917 )

        I think your comments are right in line with the post you responded to. You are claiming that dealing with requirements will keep humans employed, and he was saying how better technology has reduced his job to mostly dealing with requirements.

        • Bingo!
          Cigar for you, Sir.

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          It's generally been the trend that a platform matures and tools come along that make common tasks simpler for domain programmers and power users so that specialized "bit diddling" isn't needed any more. VB made in-house-app GUI creation a snap compared to C++, for example.

          However, whenever things settle, new technologies come along to create the cycle all over again.

          When mini-computers settled, PC's (desktop) came along, when desktops matured, web came along. When web matured, smart-phones and tablets came

        • Thirty-five years ago, I would have, on first glance, thought Python a requirements description language, since it looks a lot like the old pseudo-code I used to write to get the process right. Yesteryear's requirements language will be compiled and/or interpreted next year.

          There is one part of software development that won't be automated without strong AI: the conversion of human ideas into some sort of precise description that can be further transformed into something executable. Where this comes in

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Software development is just writing a specification document in a language that a computer will understand.

        • by jopsen ( 885607 )

          Software development is just writing a specification document in a language that a computer will understand.

          I guess you code Haskell :) he he...

      • Not automated, but point and click dumb. It's like VB without the hard parts. Sure, it's expressive and slow, but it's worth it to replace all those middle class salaries...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I heard this argument back in 1992. The US might be on the brink of recession though.

    • It is, by very definition, our job to make ourselves superfluos.

      Is that why we keep creating ever more complicated web frameworks that you need to have 5+ years experience in to get jobs? (You know, the ones that have been out for 1-2 years or so)

      Yes the simple stuff is getting simpler. The good news for working developers is that there's no shortage of hard stuff left to do.

  • Economy is Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:06AM (#50824693) Journal

    Shipments of storage and computers are down- almost always preceding a recession.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Honestly, its not a recession. Governments used that term to boost morale. In truth it's a depression. When close to a third of the country is not in the workforce, shit is bad, real bad. Meanwhile, H1Bs and L1Bs are first to be hired, American Citizens last.

      • Governments and economists use the terms "recession" and "depression" to refer to certain specific metrics.

        Most of those metrics are abstract numbers of more interest to governments and corporations than they are to people in Main Street.

        Over the last decade or so, in fact, the pain on Main Street has become less and less reflected in "official" metrics, but since to bean-counters the metric is the reality and the whole of the reality, people have been getting more and more discontented, uncomfortable, and

  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:31AM (#50824885) Homepage

    Whenever somebody uses the U3 unemployment numbers for any purpose that doesn't involve sarcasm or irony, their thoughts are not to be taken seriously. Literally the only purpose of mentioning U3 is political propaganda - the calculation methods divorce it completely and irrevocably from any potential honest use in discussing employment rates.

  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:47AM (#50825021)

    The technology industry's unemployment rate crept up to 3.0 percent

    So these are the unemployed, or the unemployed still eligible to receive unemployment?

    • Exactly. I think most states now subscribe to a fixed 26 weeks of unemployment and then you are cut off, uncounted, and forgotten. What is worse is when they disqualify a person for benefits due to any number of stupid reasons that result in that person never being counted.
      • Unemployment rates are not, and have never been, a useful measure of labor participation. For that, you look at the labor force participation rate. Of course, when you do, you see that that has been steadily going down under Obama, making this one of the worst administrations in history.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @11:36AM (#50825501)

    In the first dotcom boom, and now the social media/app boom, these same trends started appearing towards the end of each up-cycle:
    - Massive hiring of anyone who could spell HTML, barely manage a server farm, or cobble together an application starts dropping.
    - Computer science enrollment at universities hit all time highs. (The subsequent bust reverses this trend.)
    - The tech news gets wackier every day, as even the dumbest ideas are getting VC funding, IPOing or getting acquired by a huge corporation.
    - Job hopping increases, especially towards the top of the boom. (This also explains the voluntary resignation increases.) This is just people hopping for the next crazy salary increase or extra perk, and it decreases during the bust as people are happy to be working.

    I've managed to stay employed continuously through 2 of these cycles, and I'm hoping my luck holds out. I think the key is simple -- don't suck at your job. :-) I'm not claiming to be a genius or rockstar by any means (and I think the rockstar moniker is stupid,) but I have had a solid track record and very good work experience grounded in fundamentals. Each of these booms has produced a legion of people who are semi-competent but not exactly suited for the job, and they have all been drawn in by the money. Remember paper MCSEs and certification bootcamps? This boom is all about apps, so it's code academies now -- 9 weeks and you're a rockstar developer writing the latest iPhone sensation!

    I think the spikes in unemployment can be explained partially by the boom fizzling, but the systems and network administrator increase is likely due to the cloud shift. Not everything is suited to a public cloud, but enough places will see a benefit in moving their stuff that offsets the control they have in locally owned systems. Again, I think (hope, that is, since I'm in systems engineering) that solid people will be retained either as architects or sysadmins in complex environments. What I do think will start to go away is the hyper-specialists like DBAs of one flavor of database, or VSphere administrators, or SAN/storage guys. As more companies try to get away from proprietary stuff, or shift things offsite, that insanely deep knowledge of EMC, VMWare, Cisco, etc. to the exclusion of everything else is going to be less sought after. Someone who can glue all the parts together regardless of who owns them or where they are will still be able to find work. Hopefully. :-)

    • by adosch ( 1397357 )
      You nailed it. Couldn't agree more.
    • I've managed to stay employed continuously through 2 of these cycles, and I'm hoping my luck holds out. I think the key is simple -- don't suck at your job. :-)

      I've known many people who didn't suck at their job but got laid off anyway. Most of the time it's because the corporation wants to double productivity at half the cost. So the bean counters lay off half the department. Not the bottom half that sucks in productivity, but the top half that cost more in wages. Everyone else who didn't get laid off hunkered down under the doubled workload.

      • "I've known many people who didn't suck at their job but got laid off anyway. "

        Agreed, and I've been in situations like this. Luckily, I've worked at places where things like this start creeping in slowly and you can see the writing on the wall long before they get around to kicking you out. Part of being smart about your career these days is avoiding unemployment at all costs, because unemployed people are damaged goods in employers' minds regardless of the reason. Like you mention, I've known a few people

      • When I was laid off in 2002, I looked around the conference room they'd gathered us in, and saw people I really respected. The company was having a worse money crunch than I'd thought, and they were trying to keep enough people to do at least a half-assed job of giving the customers what they wanted while eliminating the higher salaries. In that company, we worked on great software, under management that didn't really know how to run a business.

  • In the same news cycle we have one source that says CIOs cannot find talent and another source saying they see an increase in laid off tech workers. So it would appear that CIO budgets are shrinking and people are over estimating their IT abilities.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      What I have seen is that there are a number of people who got relatively cushy jobs and were paid well at certain big companies, but only did a certain specific task.

      Unfortunately, that one thing they did was not really all that skillful or in demand outside of that one place.

      However, their title was still "System Administrator" or "Developer"

      So, when they get laid off, they come looking for one of those jobs in other companies, but those companies need people who know more than just X thing that this guy d

  • IT always is the 1st to get cut when the share price or sales go down.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.