September 14, 2004 7:00 AM PDT

Study: 400,000 IT jobs lost since 2001

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The information technology industry lost 403,300 jobs from the start of the recession in March 2001 to April 2004, with nearly half of those jobs disappearing after the recession's official end, according to a new study.

The report said 200,300 IT jobs were lost after November 2001 and found steep job losses in the San Francisco, Boston and San Jose, Calif., regions. The study, which was released Tuesday, was written by researchers at the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago for union group WashTech.

Officials from the center and WashTech argued that the job losses resulted from several factors, including the shift of work to lower-cost nations and the use of H-1B visas, which can be used to import computer programmers and other skilled workers.

Nik Theodore, a co-author of the study, said U.S. technology workers are experiencing something worse than a jobless recovery.

"For America's IT workforce, this has been a job-loss recovery," he said.

In recent weeks, conflicting information has emerged about the job scene for tech professionals. Unemployment in the field has dropped, as has the total number of jobs--suggesting discouraged workers may have dropped out of the field.

A survey by a staffing firm found gradually increasing confidence among IT workers in the job market. But a recent study by the Information Technology Association of America trade group found just a "slight" recovery for the IT job market in 2004.

That report concluded that the number of U.S. IT workers rose 2 percent, to 10.5 million, in the first quarter of this year, but demand for IT workers is dropping.

ITAA's report included workers in the internal IT departments of many types of corporations, while the new study for WashTech is limited to companies in the technology industry, such as Internet service providers and software publishers.

WashTech's study considered how IT industry employment has fared in a number of major tech regions and concluded that the San Francisco Bay Area has taken the largest hit in percentage terms. IT industry employment in the San Francisco region dropped 49 percent between March 2001 and April 2004 to 28,000. During the same period, IT employment in the Boston region fell 34 percent to 46,900, and industry employment in the San Jose area declined 33 percent to 61,900.

In the Dallas region, the IT industry shed 30 percent of its jobs to 39,300, and the Chicago metropolitan area lost 26 percent of its IT industry jobs to 47,000. In the Washington state region that includes Seattle, IT industry employment slipped 11 percent to 52,800.

The study said these numbers may not reflect all IT job losses, because data for certain sectors of the IT industry aren't available for several regions. For example, employment data for the software publishing industry is not available for the Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco regions, according to the study.

Theodore said that partly because of the rise of so-called offshoring--in which services work is sent abroad--IT industry employment is likely to drop further. "All indications are that job losses will continue," he said.

Defenders of offshoring say it ultimately benefits the U.S. economy and U.S. workers, and that protectionist measures would result in lower economic growth and higher unemployment.

Critics respond that offshoring costs U.S. workers jobs and tally of jobs "offshored" since 2000 has passed 250,000. The tally, a project involving WashTech and other groups, is based on media accounts.

Courtney said one of the first steps to improve the job situation for technology workers is to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. L-1 visas allow companies to temporarily bring in employees from other countries for managerial or executive work, or for work that entails specialized knowledge.

"It's almost economically impossible to argue that there are not enough skilled, high-tech workers domestically," Courtney said.

6 comments

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Weren't 500,000 lost in 2002 alone?
Different studies offer different results but are uniform in their bleakness. One amusing note was when California suggested banning state offshoring, one objection was these jobs were too high paying. I guess we only want to keep the low paying ones, ;-).
Posted by MyLord (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Weren't 500,000 lost in 2002 alone?
Different studies offer different results but are uniform in their bleakness. One amusing note was when California suggested banning state offshoring, one objection was these jobs were too high paying. I guess we only want to keep the low paying ones, ;-).
Posted by MyLord (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I know of several such cases!
I was one of several people that I know that have been laid off from an IT job, and could not find anything else. Eventually, most of my friends had to give up on IT positions and moved into other fields. Luckily most of them had actually come from different fields in the first place, before coming into IT several years ago.

For me, I was really stuck since I started out in the IT or tech field and that's where I've been for 16+ years. My only option was to take a much lower paying job that was about 4 positions lower then where I was at. There just isn't anything available for those of us that were in so called middle-management IT jobs or similar.

It took me over 6 months to find a job, which is the longest it's ever taken me! I had never been unemployed for more then a week prior to this (at that time I had been in the industry 15+ years and had worked for 6 different companies). It is getting very rough out there. Jobs are limited. Competition is incredible and cut throat. I lost out several times due to salary requirements. There are many out there that are much younger then me, with no family to support that were willing to take literally half the pay.

It's almost getting to the point where most IT positions no longer pay enough to support those of us who are older with families (unless you have a spouse who is rich or has a high paying job). And it was VERY clear to me in all of the interviews and jobs I went after that a) college degree meant nothing (so much for that BS degree I slaved over and am still paying on). b) Overall experience meant nothing, just experience on the latest version of product. c) Nothing else matters. All they seemed to care about was how much I knew about the latest and greatest product (which in my case with 16+ years of experience in this industry and having been in a management position for the last couple of years, my deep technology skills where a little light on the latest versions). They could care less even though I had the ability to learn the new version very quickly, just given the opportunity. They could care less that I had worked with numerous previous versions of the products for years on end. Experience with project management, people management, troubleshooting, etc, etc, none of that mattered. Why else would an 18 year old high school drop out with an MCSE win the job over me?? Its just crazy!

This has been a very humbling and disappointing experience. My conclusion, IT jobs are no longer for the mature, experienced, family oriented professional. It's now a commodity open to the lowest bidder. Its a real shame that the IT industry has come to this. I don't blame just outsourcing overseas for this new wave, but also corporations themselves and the push to save every IT dollar. They sacrifice experience and stability just to save a few bucks.

At 34, I feel like a dinosaur trying to compete in a market made up of nimble little carnivores that are much faster then I. Eventually, yes I did find a job. But I had to take a very serious pay cut to do so, as well as take several steps down in positions. I'm now at the same position level as I was 8 years ago, but that's all I could find. It is strange working for someone much younger and less experienced then me, but thats the world we live in now. I know that I'm not the only one with this same experience. Several of my old co-workers have been through the same, as I mentioned earlier. Most of them had to leave the industry all together. Today one of them is a CPA, another is a restaurant manager, another is a store assistant manager for a Wal-Mart, another is a financial advisor (he had an MBA), and another owns his own food franchise business.

This whole thing has been a horrifying experience. And even though I have a job today, I don't know how long it will last or what the future holds for me. This past year has been a real test for my family and I. We went through some pretty hard times, loosing just about everything (retirement funds, house, kid's college funds, savings, car, almost my marriage, just about everything). It will take us years to get back to where we were financially, if ever.

The biggest goal for me now is to figure out how to leave the IT field. It's clear there is no future for me here, and I believe things are getting worse and not better. I am trying to figure out where else I can go, what else I can do. What other types of careers can an IT person change over to? I know that I have to find something different, and soon...

All I can say, it's a real shame what this industry has come to. Really a shame... And to those of you who are managers or responsible for hiring IT personnel, I urge you to look beyond the "latest and greatest" and look at the whole picture of a candidate. Just because I may not know Windows 2003 VERY deeply, my 16+ years of Windows experience and deep skills in Win2k is STILL valuable experience and I DO have the ability to learn things quickly so it wouldn't take long to learn Win2k3 as well...

For those of you in my position, I wish you the best and I hope you find something, and soon. For those of you thinking about going into IT... DON'T! Go be a Dr or lawyer or something else. I don't know what, but it's bound to be better then IT!

Best Wishes,

-----------------
HobNoggin Fodder, the best Blog on the web
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://hobnoggin.b-logging.com" target="_newWindow">http://hobnoggin.b-logging.com</a>
Posted by il2rb (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I know of several such cases!
I was one of several people that I know that have been laid off from an IT job, and could not find anything else. Eventually, most of my friends had to give up on IT positions and moved into other fields. Luckily most of them had actually come from different fields in the first place, before coming into IT several years ago.

For me, I was really stuck since I started out in the IT or tech field and that's where I've been for 16+ years. My only option was to take a much lower paying job that was about 4 positions lower then where I was at. There just isn't anything available for those of us that were in so called middle-management IT jobs or similar.

It took me over 6 months to find a job, which is the longest it's ever taken me! I had never been unemployed for more then a week prior to this (at that time I had been in the industry 15+ years and had worked for 6 different companies). It is getting very rough out there. Jobs are limited. Competition is incredible and cut throat. I lost out several times due to salary requirements. There are many out there that are much younger then me, with no family to support that were willing to take literally half the pay.

It's almost getting to the point where most IT positions no longer pay enough to support those of us who are older with families (unless you have a spouse who is rich or has a high paying job). And it was VERY clear to me in all of the interviews and jobs I went after that a) college degree meant nothing (so much for that BS degree I slaved over and am still paying on). b) Overall experience meant nothing, just experience on the latest version of product. c) Nothing else matters. All they seemed to care about was how much I knew about the latest and greatest product (which in my case with 16+ years of experience in this industry and having been in a management position for the last couple of years, my deep technology skills where a little light on the latest versions). They could care less even though I had the ability to learn the new version very quickly, just given the opportunity. They could care less that I had worked with numerous previous versions of the products for years on end. Experience with project management, people management, troubleshooting, etc, etc, none of that mattered. Why else would an 18 year old high school drop out with an MCSE win the job over me?? Its just crazy!

This has been a very humbling and disappointing experience. My conclusion, IT jobs are no longer for the mature, experienced, family oriented professional. It's now a commodity open to the lowest bidder. Its a real shame that the IT industry has come to this. I don't blame just outsourcing overseas for this new wave, but also corporations themselves and the push to save every IT dollar. They sacrifice experience and stability just to save a few bucks.

At 34, I feel like a dinosaur trying to compete in a market made up of nimble little carnivores that are much faster then I. Eventually, yes I did find a job. But I had to take a very serious pay cut to do so, as well as take several steps down in positions. I'm now at the same position level as I was 8 years ago, but that's all I could find. It is strange working for someone much younger and less experienced then me, but thats the world we live in now. I know that I'm not the only one with this same experience. Several of my old co-workers have been through the same, as I mentioned earlier. Most of them had to leave the industry all together. Today one of them is a CPA, another is a restaurant manager, another is a store assistant manager for a Wal-Mart, another is a financial advisor (he had an MBA), and another owns his own food franchise business.

This whole thing has been a horrifying experience. And even though I have a job today, I don't know how long it will last or what the future holds for me. This past year has been a real test for my family and I. We went through some pretty hard times, loosing just about everything (retirement funds, house, kid's college funds, savings, car, almost my marriage, just about everything). It will take us years to get back to where we were financially, if ever.

The biggest goal for me now is to figure out how to leave the IT field. It's clear there is no future for me here, and I believe things are getting worse and not better. I am trying to figure out where else I can go, what else I can do. What other types of careers can an IT person change over to? I know that I have to find something different, and soon...

All I can say, it's a real shame what this industry has come to. Really a shame... And to those of you who are managers or responsible for hiring IT personnel, I urge you to look beyond the "latest and greatest" and look at the whole picture of a candidate. Just because I may not know Windows 2003 VERY deeply, my 16+ years of Windows experience and deep skills in Win2k is STILL valuable experience and I DO have the ability to learn things quickly so it wouldn't take long to learn Win2k3 as well...

For those of you in my position, I wish you the best and I hope you find something, and soon. For those of you thinking about going into IT... DON'T! Go be a Dr or lawyer or something else. I don't know what, but it's bound to be better then IT!

Best Wishes,

-----------------
HobNoggin Fodder, the best Blog on the web
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://hobnoggin.b-logging.com" target="_newWindow">http://hobnoggin.b-logging.com</a>
Posted by il2rb (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
400k IT jobs lost...
With the loss of 400,000 IT jobs goes 20+ billion dollars of income and 10 billion or so in tax revenue. The replacement jobs, often service-related, don't make up for the loss of income, for either the individual or for the governments which rely on income tax revenue.
The result is bigger deficits; and a tax burden that is shouldered by fewer and fewer. And as long as we have tax-breaks given to the top 1%, the disproportionate burden falls on those who can afford it the least.
Yes, services and goods will be cheaper, temporarily, but the long-term affect is to convert the US' economy into a third-world economy, where a large portion of the population cannot afford even the less-expensive things.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
400k IT jobs lost...
With the loss of 400,000 IT jobs goes 20+ billion dollars of income and 10 billion or so in tax revenue. The replacement jobs, often service-related, don't make up for the loss of income, for either the individual or for the governments which rely on income tax revenue.
The result is bigger deficits; and a tax burden that is shouldered by fewer and fewer. And as long as we have tax-breaks given to the top 1%, the disproportionate burden falls on those who can afford it the least.
Yes, services and goods will be cheaper, temporarily, but the long-term affect is to convert the US' economy into a third-world economy, where a large portion of the population cannot afford even the less-expensive things.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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