The U.S. Lost Nearly a Quarter Million Tech Jobs in 2009
May 3, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
According to a new report from the TechAmerica Foundation, a think tank based on the U.S. capital dedicated to the high tech industry, that industry shed 245,600 tech jobs last year thanks to the economic meltdown. That was a 4 percent decline in the high-tech workforce, from 6.11 million to 5.85 million employees across all companies physically located in America.
The high-tech manufacturing sector shed the most jobs, cutting 112,600 workers, down 8.1 percent, to 1.28 million employees in total. Engineering and tech services firms shed 59,100 workers, to 1.59 million, a decline of 3.6 percent, while communications services companies chopped 53,000 jobs, to 1.31 million, a decline of 3.9 percent. Software services companies fared better than other tech areas, with a 1.2 percent decline in workforce located in the U.S, to 1.69 million people, down, 20,700 workers.
“While it weathered the storm better than the private sector at large, the U.S. high-tech industry clearly felt the effect of the recession in 2009,” explained Christopher Hansen, president at TechAmerica Foundation, in a statement going over the figures. Which I highly suspect are a gussied up version of the data coming out of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Every corner of the industry experienced job losses, though software services, which helped tech hold up longer than most at the recession’s onset, saw growth in Q4 2009.”
The one thing that I have not seen, and which would be terribly useful, is a breakdown of employment and salary for American workers by job type, not the single industry that their employer happens to be classified in by the Labor Department. (Think about it: is IBM a manufacturer of computers, a services company, or a software firm? Why, it is all three.) It would be enlightening to know how many programmers, system administrators, project managers, IT directors, and so on are doing IT work every day in this country and how these jobs–and their salaries–change over time. It would also require a new method of gathering data than the Labor Department currently does.
Anyway, TechAmerica Foundation says that the high-tech industry had four years of employment growth from 2004 through 2008, and that the decline in 2009 was not as bad as the private sector overall, which saw a 5 percent drop in headcount. The report did have some tidbits of real data, saying that the unemployment rate for electrical engineers was 6.9 percent and for computer scientists and systems analysts was 6.1 percent last year (at what point, the foundation didn’t say). But the unemployment rate crested above 10 percent in the economy at large as 2009 came to an end according to the Labor Department, so these high-tech jobs did comparatively well. The average high-tech worker had an annual wage of $84,400 last year, almost double the average private sector wage of $45,400.