The unemployment rate for U.S. engineering and computer occupations is increasing more rapidly than for professional occupations in general, according to data released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“Engineers create jobs, so these data are very discouraging,” said Gordon Day, president of IEEE-USA. “Engineers strengthen companies and start new ones, leveraging the economy upwards. The fundamental need is for capital to support engineering activity. That’s why the government’s investments in technology and its efforts to restore the banking system are so important.”
The unemployment rate for all engineers jumped from 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9% in the first quarter of 2009. For all computer occupations, the rate went from 3.3% to 5.4%. In comparison, the quarter-to-quarter rate for all professional workers increased from 3% to 3.7%.
For electrical and electronics engineers, the jobless rate rose from 2.4% to 4.1%, quarter to quarter. For mechanical engineers, it went from 2.1% to 4.2%. Aerospace engineers suffered less, with an increase from 1.1% to 1.4%. In computer occupations, the rate for software engineers went from 1.9% to 4.2%. For computer scientists and systems analysts, the change was from 3% to 5.7%.
High-tech managers also experienced unemployment increases. For computer and information systems managers, the rate rose from 2.7% to 4%. For engineering managers, it went from 1% to 1.8%.
“We at IEEE-USA are concerned about how rapidly engineering and computer-related unemployment is trending upwards,” Day said. “In 2007, the overall engineering unemployment rate was only 1.2 percent.”