Electronic Design

IEEE Cites Outsourcing As Wages Drop And U.S. Loses 221,000 Jobs

The number of U.S. technical workers fell 221,000 in six major engineering and computer job classifications from 2000 to 2004, says the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Meanwhile, the IEEE reports the first drop in median income for U.S. IEEE members in 31 years. Industries reporting the largest income drop also reported the highest percentage of unemployment because of offshoring. And, the IEEE data shows a 2.5% drop in income in electrical/electronics manufacturing versus a 16.2% increase in offshore manufacturing in 2004. The report is based on the results of the 2004 IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefits Survey.

Computer programmers faced the largest job losses, the BLS reports, followed by electrical and electronics engineers, then computer scientists and systems analysts (see the table). These declines were partially offset by substantial employment increases for computer and information systems managers, computer hardware engineers, and computer software engineers.

According to the BLS, computer programming jobs dropped more than 24%--from 745,000 in 2000 to 564,000 in 2004. The number of employed electrical and electronics engineers shrunk by 101,000, from 444,000 in 2000 to 343,000 last year, a drop of nearly 23%. Computer scientists and systems analysts have experienced similar losses, falling more than 16%, from 835,000 in 2000 to 700,000 in 2004.

"The drop in computer programmers and rise in managers reflects the trend toward offshoring of programming jobs and the resulting need for professionals to manage outsourced projects," says IEEE-USA president Gerard A. Alphonse.

"The data supports our contention that offshoring not only contributes significantly to U.S. high-tech unemployment, but also suppresses wages," Alphonse adds. "Our concerns extend beyond job loss and depressed incomes to threats to our nation's innovation infrastructure. Because innovation tends to follow jobs, key drivers of our economic prosperity could be lost."

Employers also are providing much less service for laid-off workers, the IEEE adds. Severance was offered in 54% of the cases, compared to 90% in 2002, and extended benefits only 27% of the time, compared to 48% in 2002.

U.S. TECH JOBS LOST Job classification

2000

2004

Change

Percent

Computer hardware engineers

83,000

96,000

+13,000

+15.7

Computer/info systems managers

228,000

337,000

+109,000

+47.8

Computer programmers

745,000

564,000

­181,000

­24.3

Computer scientists/systems analysts

835,000

700,000

­135,000

­16.2

Computer software engineers

739,000

813,000

+74,000

+10.0

Electrical/electronics engineers

444,000

343,000

­101,000

­22.7

Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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