Saturday, November 19, 2005

IT Job Losses are Severe

According to the BLS, there have been over 800,000 jobs lost since March of 2001 in the IT industry; a total of 10%. What is disturbing is that the job loss continues post recession and in numbers similar to the losses seen during the Internet Bubble burst. The image below was based upon BLS statistics and reported by a study conducted by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

These statistics explain why college students have stopped enrolling in computer science programs; down 23% in 2003 alone according to a report in ZDNET. Computer Engineering has seen a drop of 19%; while foreign enrollment has dropped just 2%. This suggests that Americans are losing jobs in the United States while foreigners retain them -thanks to immigration programs which allow corporations to replace American workers with cheaper foreign workers. This is unfortunate because guest worker programs were created to address an alleged worker shortage. Statistics show that unemployment in IT careers is on the rise. The image below (Provided by the CWA) depicts a drastic shift in our job market.

This is not a surprise because of a trend to shift American IT jobs to cheaper markets, like India, China, and former Russian states. Workers there are paid a fraction of American salaries ($10 an hour gets you an experienced programmer in India, for example). And while jobs move to India, companies lobby Congress to raise the number of foreign workers who are permitted to enter the country.

The H-1B and L1 visa programs allow companies to replace American IT workers with low-cost foreign labor. Why would companies bother moving workers all the way from India? Simple, according to a study by John Mianno of the Programmers Guild foreign workers are paid from 10-24% less than their American counterparts. This is having a drastic impact on the American IT workforce. What is worse, our foreign counterparts are often abused; forced to work long hours with the threat of deportation hanging over them because their employers are also their sponsors.


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