April 26, 2007

Ho Hum Hiring News (042607)

From the Associated Press in USA Today on Wednesday:

California continues to employ far more technology workers, pay higher wages and attract more venture capital than any other state. But the overall U.S. tech sector is also growing at a surprisingly brisk clip — for now.

That’s the conclusion of a highly anticipated annual report by AeA, formerly the American Electronics Association, the country’s largest technology trade association. Researchers relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mostly from 2006.

According to the 2007 “Cyberstates” report, to be published Tuesday, the U.S. tech industry employed 5.8 million people last year — up 2.6% from 2005. Despite fears of jobs going overseas, the industry gained nearly 147,000 positions in 2006, compared with 87,400 jobs added in 2005.

The strongest subcategory of technology in the 10th annual AeA report was software, which employed more than 1.5 million people and created 88,500 new jobs last year.

The average technology worker nationwide earns $75,500. That’s short of the $78,691 average income in 2000, the peak of the dot-com boom. But it’s 86% more than the average private sector wage of $40,500.

….. The unemployment rate for computer scientists last year was 2.5%, and for electrical engineers it was 1.9%. The low rates signal a dramatic worker shortage that will prompt more U.S. companies to open offices abroad.

“This is called full employment, folks,” Archey said. “Our own kids are not going into math and science, and we can’t hire foreigners like we did for the 50 years before 2001.

Why does the Formerly Mainstream Media always seem to be ‘surprised’ at any good economic news?

The bad news is that the US educational system is failing the high-tech sector bigtime, and is clearly causing problems:

A recent federal study found 40% of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th-graders didn’t show basic skills.

“Our big tech companies would like a lot of their employees to be here, but policies and the education system say to them, ‘Don’t do it,”‘ said Archey, whose members include tech blue chips such as Intel and IBM, and hundreds of start-ups and midsized businesses from Boston to Silicon Valley.

I think I’m correct when I say that many of the same people who complain about outsourcing don’t seem particularly troubled by the US’s educational mediocrity.

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2 Comments

  1. I think it’s the other way around. As a Mechanical Engineer who was “downsized” in 2003 and only landed a full-time gig in 2006 – barely making ends meet by contracting – the “cause & effect” in the column are IMHO reversed.

    People aren’t studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) because they’re hard. They’re not studying them because companies have repeatedly shown that they value cheap workers overseas OVER having skilled people here.

    Consider my experience at a Harvard-sponsored forum on offshoring. I heard one “suit” say to another “Why should I hire an American when I can get two Indians for the same price?” There are scores, hundreds of anecdotes of workers being told to train foreign workers who come over specifically to learn the job, then go back to wherever (India is common ) to do the job with the American losing their job.

    Indeed, my alma mater for grad school just had an editorial of how their curriculum is changing to meet the (paraphrased) new reality that people overseas are skilled and can do the same work for less… the focus in this new curriculum is to train people to manage a geographically-widespread work group.

    When the investment of intellectual effort to become a highly-educated person in a STEM career results in a daily risk that your job will be yanked because someone, somewhere, thinks they can save money by sending the job overseas – why bother?

    Comment by David Hunt — April 27, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  2. Thanks for the perspective, and I believe you are on to something. And I am familiar with some situations similar to your personal one, and to the ones you describe.

    It’s a chicken-egg thing, though. I believe that the outsourcing wouldn’t have begun in earnest if our schools hadn’t been failing us for decades. I think the lack of interest in STEM and the declining rigor of the educational system set in well before the outsourcing took off.

    What to do now? I don’t know.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 27, 2007 @ 11:51 am

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