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IT Workers Cushioned From US Economic Downturn 357

Posted by timothy
from the employment-tends-to-be-binary-though dept.
DontLickJesus writes "According to the AP, technology has been the least hardest hit by the U.S.'s recent economic downturn. Quote: '"Overall technology employment is up in America and the wages associated with it are up," said John McCarthy, a vice president with Forrester Research.' The article goes on to say that companies realize the worth of their [IT] staff. This paired along with a recent article regarding the value of data centers when selling a company leads one to believe that the business world, while historically not fond of IT workers, is showing its true opinion of the sector."
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IT Workers Cushioned From US Economic Downturn

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  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:28PM (#25096269) Journal

    Perhaps because during 2001-2003 they sliced back so much IT staff that they still have not finished catching up? Also many IT people went into other fields or back to school during that time, reducing the supply, meaning there is less chance of oversupply this time around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Perhaps because during 2001-2003 they sliced back so much IT staff that they still have not finished catching up? Also many IT people went into other fields or back to school during that time, reducing the supply, meaning there is less chance of oversupply this time around.

      Most likely because in a downturn*, 'IT' is the cheapeast way to increase productivity, especially if you have to fire people.

      *Because there is increased pressure to create/find efficiencies, not because IT is somehow cheaper during a downturn than during an upturn.

      • by vitaflo (20507) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:46PM (#25096439) Homepage

        Most likely because in a downturn*, 'IT' is the cheapeast way to increase productivity, especially if you have to fire people.

        *Because there is increased pressure to create/find efficiencies, not because IT is somehow cheaper during a downturn than during an upturn.

        I think it's a bit of both. Obviously people are looking for efficiencies when times get tight. Investing in technical solutions is one way to do that.

        But I also think the dot-com bust helped as well. There are far fewer people in tech jobs than there used to be. Those that survived the bust are most likely more qualified as well (at least compared to those who were only in it to make a buck in the late 90's).

        So, it comes down to supply and demand. At least, I've noticed this where I live. Business is very good right now, and doesn't seem to be slowing up.

      • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:50PM (#25096487) Journal

        Most likely because in a downturn*, 'IT' is the cheapeast way to increase productivity, especially if you have to fire people.

        During the dot-com downturn, most businesses just let the existing software run as-is, without adding features. Thus, they only had to pay for skeleton-crew maintenance, not new features. Whether this is the best strategy or not profit-wise, I couldn't say. But it's what companies actually did regardless of merit.

        Note that new features generally takes some up-front investment, and if you are in financial hot-water, you don't spend for such projects because the company may not survive long enough to see the up-front investment pay off.

        Smarter companies would sock some cash away so that they could get new technology while techies are cheaper. Instead they usually wait until the middle of a boom and then whine to congress that they need H1B's.
             

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Oh, IT workers will be OK through this downturn.

          Just not American IT workers.

          Didn't I just see that HP laid off 26,000 workers last week? And now Carly Fiorina is one of John McCain's advisors. He knows how to pick 'em, no?

          • What the fsck does Carly have to do with recent HP anything? Have you not read the news? She doesn't work there anymore. Hasn't for quite some time, actually.
        • by Kjella (173770)

          Note that new features generally takes some up-front investment, and if you are in financial hot-water, you don't spend for such projects because the company may not survive long enough to see the up-front investment pay off.

          I figure it's more like the usual, they get their stock bonus now and move to another company before the downside hits...

    • The AP writer is funny. It's like she didn't even live on this planet for the last 7.5 years, and doesn't understand the 600,000+ IT workers that lost their jobs to the flooding of services from overseas outsourcing. I can't help but wonder if the loss of circulation for newspapers is because the reporters don't read the paper?

    • I hopped on to post a similar (but snarkier, "Because unemployment benefits weren't affected.") comment when I saw your timeframe. That was the period when my company randomly laid off 5% of its workforce, me included. That was my last stint in IT - I've been in education since, and it's highly unlikely I'll ever go back.

      The real truth is that the IT industry got well gutted in the last seven years or so. Hard to trim any more since a large amount is bare-bones. I don't know many IT people who say their d
    • by Plutonite (999141)

      Perhaps because during 2001-2003 they sliced back so much IT staff that they still have not finished catching up?

      This is why anything involving economics and stats is so darn hard. It's difficult to find evidence for something when your "universe" is one huge chaotic system where different perspectives realize the same activities.

      Was it the cut back several years back? Or is it that IT is becoming vital due to the natural maturing of the industry and civilization (effects of 1960's inventions and work)? Or maybe it is [unbelievably] this administration's policies? Or the previous one's?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...why I feel insulated from this thing... it can't last forever. More and more of our friends are starting to have problems with credit cards, mortgages, evictions, etc. etc. And here I am still blowing $300 a week on weed and doing fine. Yes I think I will check the AC checkbox now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:06PM (#25096643)

      ...I am still blowing $300 a week on weed...
      I've been wondering why I feel insulated from this thing...

      Maybe because you're HIGH, moron.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      $300/week?!!!!! Holy cow! I consider a $30 month to be a heavy month.

  • Cusioned? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eugene ts wong (231154) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:33PM (#25096323) Homepage Journal

    I don't think that you're cusioned until the government bails you out with $700,000,000,000.

    Sorry, I don't appreciate being forced to work for a living with unpaid overtime, while someone else gets free money.

    • Thanks to a doofus in the White House, and hundreds of doofuses in Congress, the government is now giving almost a trillion dollars of *out* money to private business. Don't blame the Republicans, don't blame the Democrats, blame them both! Blame their presidential candidates too, who can't seem to fine the conjones to condemn this action.

  • Companies have been cutting back staff to conserve money. But the truth is they want to accomplish the same amount, if not more, of work - and that means relying more on computers to multiply the effect of what workers remain.

    Furthermore when it comes down to it, companies realize the large staffs they built up to manage overseas workers are less effective than just having a few dedicated IT people on staff, or use local consulting without so much overhead. Outsourcing overseas was always a luxury item an

  • by Wansu (846) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:44PM (#25096423)

    This is just the start of it. It's way too early to crow.

    Our end of the boat may not be taking on water yet but the ship is sinking, the brass band is playing and politicians are fighting over the deck chairs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      but the ship is sinking, the brass band is playing and politicians are fighting over the deck chairs.

      Gee, that would make a great movie.....oh wait.
           

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:46PM (#25096437) Homepage Journal

    IT Workers Cushioned From US Economic Downturn

    That's good news for both of them!

  • by LibertineR (591918) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:55PM (#25096523)
    What a bunch of crap.

    Companies are delaying/canceling IT projects all over the place. My company had a client last week, whine about needing a server upgrade, but cant do it because we actually charge for that shit. Says, if we would be willing to do the work for free, we can make it up on follow-on work next time around. We don't work for free, so his org will pound sand, or find some starving IT workers on Craiglist to do the work for Top Ramen. Fuck em. (yeah you, asshole, I KNOW you read Slashdot. Don't call me when your cheap-ass SATA-driven MOSS server goes tits up, baby.)

    Nobody is willing to spend any money, which will only cost them down the road. IT requires investment in systems, people and maintenance. Skip on one, pay double for the others later.

    IT is not just employees. Consultants are taking it in the shorts too.

    • Companies are delaying/canceling IT projects all over the place. My company had a client last week, whine about needing a server upgrade, but cant do it because we actually charge for that shit.

      We get that same line with some of our clients too.

      You know what really pisses me off though? They come ranting and raving about how we should support something for free because we sold them the solution in the past. Uh huh, and Mazda should replace all broken parts in my car during its life because I bought it from

  • Bad conclusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:01PM (#25096583) Journal

    This paired along with a recent article regarding the value of data centers when selling a company leads one to believe that the business world, while historically not fond of IT workers, is showing its true opinion of the sector.

    The reason IT is being the least hit is because it has been the primary target for so long. IT has been viewed as fat, as so trimmed, for so long that there is precious little left.

    The "true opinion" is that all the expendable IT jobs are now outside the company.

    After outsourcing and offshoring as many jobs as possible, there are few expendable positions left in companies. Many of the positions that are being cut are jobs waiting for backfill and contract jobs.

  • Bailout (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:14PM (#25096737)

    We must not allow the Treasure Secretary to receive $700 billion to spend with no oversight whatsoever. The current plan creates a gigantic moral hazard, is inflationary, rewards reckless risk-taking by CEOs, and still results in common people being foreclosed upon. We need to re-institute the Glass-Steagall act, allow highly leveraged firms to fail, insulate common people from the effects of these failing institutions, and regulate the market to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.

    • Re:Bailout (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @05:43PM (#25097461)

      and still results in common people being foreclosed upon.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one put a gun to anyone's head and made them sign a mortgage they couldn't afford. I'm sick of paying for the mistakes of the stupid / greedy, whether they're Wall Street execs or "common people" who can't / won't pay their mortgage. The "common people" you refer to are just as guilty as the Wall Streeters, and that it's even being considered to *reset* their mortgage principals is blatantly shocking. Where's the handout for those of us who follow the rules and live within our means?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mjwx (966435)

        I'm sick of paying for the mistakes of the stupid / greedy, whether they're Wall Street execs or "common people" who can't / won't pay their mortgage.

        It's not necessarily their fault, the Government at the time artificially kept interest rates low rather than allow them to reflect the true state of the market. This is why interest rates in the US rose sharply and why they did not follow the same trend as the rest of the world for the previous 5 or 6 years. All of this to prevent having a recession during

      • Re:Bailout (Score:4, Informative)

        by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:16PM (#25098607)

        We can agree that these mortgages shouldn't have been created in the first place. But history has shown that threat of foreclosure just isn't a good enough deterrent for lots of people. That's a shame, but it's true. If we want to avoid another bubble, we need to ensure that banks don't lend at these irresistible terms anymore. That requires regulation. If you have a better idea, go ahead and argue for it.

        If you want to assign blame, sure, some part of it rests with homeowners. You should know that a zero-down adjustable rate mortgage with a five-year teaser is a seriously bad idea. But being suckered into one of these is understandable, especially given the seriously deceptive advertising during the height of the housing bubble targeted at our most ignorant and vulnerable citizens.

        On the other hand, we have the brokers who received massive commissions on mortgages they knew their clients couldn't afford. We have the banks who collected mortgages they knew couldn't be repaid into big packages, and we have credit raters who rated these steaming piles of bad mortgages as AAA-investment-grade-super-plus-plus-good like some kind of retarded eBay user.

        While homeowners may be guilty of ignorance and shortsightedness, the financial industry in its unfathomable greed knew perfectly well what would happen and manipulated the market anyway; that's a far greater crime. Equitably, in a bailout, the financial industry should bear the greatest burden and the common homeowner the least. Both are unfair to those of us who lived within our means, but bailing out homeowners is less unfair, and better for our society as a whole.

        • Re:Bailout (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:49PM (#25098853)

          Ahhh, but the government *mandated* that the banks had to make mortgages available to low-income people after the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the country screamed racism years ago, and forced the financial institutions to change the rules to make credit available for these folks. Now, they're screaming racism again when the "homeowners" (they're not really homeowners as they never had any equity in the real estate in the first place) inevitably defaulted. Here in Baltimore, the city is suing Wells Fargo for $5 million for "unfairly" targeting blacks to take these loans. No one wants to talk about why these people were even eligible in the first place, but a lot of the original blame rests on "advocates" like Jackson lobbying for credit for people would couldn't pay. And of course, fucking greedy Wall Street and the stupid and / or greedy borrowers (yes -- the borrowers, like the single mom with four kids running her home daycare center out of "her" $545k house on the front page of the Baltimore Sun [baltimoresun.com] -- fuck her and take her house). What should really happen is that the banks be allowed to fail and the execs be thrown in jail, and people learn some responsibility by going back to living in an apartment for awhile. The reason this shit keeps happening is because the government keeps stepping in and removing the consequences of peoples' decisions, and then sticks us responsible folks with the bill. FUCK THAT. No more.

          Seriously, if you sign a mortgage and don't understand what you're signing, you're a fucking idiot, and I have absolutely no sympathy for you. We have a 30 year fixed mortgage and still hired a lawyer to look everything over before doing the deal.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:25PM (#25096833) Homepage

    Just because technology companies are not hit as hard by this economic downturn, that does not mean technology workers (programmers, engineers, network admins, system admins) are equivalently immune. One problem here is the Labor department is classifying things badly. When the payroll of a technology company goes up, they interpret it as benefiting technology workers. It could be they are just hiring more sales people (I've seen it done). And a huge amount of IT is done in non-technology companies, including financial companies. And even if these companies consider their data centers to be of value, the IT workers own none of it, and few of them would be considered vital employees.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:26PM (#25096847) Homepage

    The reason we're "cushioned" from the financial nonsense is because there isn't much room to go lower. Wages are crap, yet the nation is inextricably dependent on IT services. They can't pay us any less, and they can't fire us - they've already outsourced all the jobs they could.

    The title may as well be "Wage slaves cushioned from US economy downturn". The only reason an IT guy gets a raise is because his supervisor's been getting too many phone calls checking references.

    • . Wages are crap,

      Actually, wages are not crap. We're just frigging greedy. WE're in a field that expects to pay us the same coming out of "Chumb MCSE school" the same rate that a frigging doctor makes coming out of medical school. I guarantee you that, on average, IT workers make more money on average than just about every other position, every field, in every other country on the planet earth. If you want more money, you need to own a business, rather than be an indentured servant for someone elses.

  • by Eil (82413) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:09PM (#25098545) Homepage Journal

    Let's just call it what it is: a recession.

    Whenever I listen to international news, they refer to the U.S. economy as in recession. The U.S. media, however, always call it an "economic downturn" or "slow economy" or some other silly thing that basically means recession.

  • Then why are mega corporations pushing to raise the cap on H1B Visa IT limits [internetnews.com] if they "love" us US Citizen IT Workers?

    I've been out of work since 2002, and many other IT workers I know have moved on to non-IT work as all companies in our area are hiring are foreign IT workers via H1B Visas. I have been turned down for thousands of IT jobs because I am not a foreigner that is willing to work for minimum wage or almost minimum wage via a H1B IT Visa. I'd have a much better chance if I renounce my US citizenship and apply for citizenship in an Asian nation and then apply for an H1B Visa application and then I'd have a 100% chance of being hired as an IT worker in the USA. Of course it would be for a fraction of what I would be paid as a US citizen, but most of us have been out of work for so long, we start to get desperate. :)

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