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If Tech Is So Important, Why Are IT Wages Flat? 660

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
dcblogs writes "Despite the fact that technology plays an increasingly important role in the economy, IT wages remain persistently flat. This may be tech's inconvenient truth. In 2000, the average hourly wage was $37.27 in computer and math occupations for workers with at least a bachelor's degree. In 2011, it was $39.24, adjusted for inflation, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. That translates to an average wage increase of less than a half percent a year. In real terms, IT wages overall have gone up by $1.97 an hour in just over 10 years, according to the EPI. Data from professional staffing firm Yoh shows wages in decline. In its latest measure for week 12 of 2012, the hourly wages were $31.45 and in 2010, for the same week, at $31.78. The worker who earned $31.78 in 2010 would need to make $33.71 today to stay even with inflation. Wages vary by skill and this data is broad. The unemployment rate for tech has been in the 3-4% range, but EPI says full employment has been historically around 2%."
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If Tech Is So Important, Why Are IT Wages Flat?

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  • by Trepidity (597) <<gro.hsikcah> <ta> <todhsals-muiriled>> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:52PM (#42196729)

    If you're a competent programmer and live in the SF Bay Area, wages are definitely not flat, to the point of absurdity. There are kids just coming out of college making $80k or more as a starting salary, and quickly rising up to $120k+ within only a few years of experience.

    • by Zeromous (668365) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:55PM (#42196789) Homepage

      In my area (not US) if your skills have flattened so has your salary. If you grow and expand your abilties, there is plenty of room for growth.

      BTW 80k to start in SF seems pretty horrible considering the cost of living there I dont find it surprising to command 6 figures after proving oneself.

      • by Altus (1034)

        See, learning new skills should improve your pay, but even without it your pay should be going up steadily just to account for increases in the cost of living. Hell you should be beating that for a while just because of the additional value you gain simply through experience.

        Yes, training matters so you have trained up and seen your wages go up and you think that is good but the fact of the matter is they haven't gone up by as much as they should because you are working from a flat baseline while cost of l

    • by TheViffer (128272)

      Absurdity is better defined working for a SF Bay Area company but living in in the midwest .. just saying :-)

    • by emt377 (610337)

      If you're a competent programmer and live in the SF Bay Area, wages are definitely not flat, to the point of absurdity. There are kids just coming out of college making $80k or more as a starting salary, and quickly rising up to $120k+ within only a few years of experience.

      If you're a competent programmer in the Bay Area you work in product development, not IT.

    • by EllisDees (268037)

      Yep, it's the same way in Seattle. There is so much competition for good programmers that you can almost write your own paycheck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:52PM (#42196733)

    flat is rising.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Adding to that, they are comparing wages between 2000 and 2011. One is the peak of the dot-com boom, the other is now. If they compared between 2001 and 2011 or 2002 and 2012, they probably will have a different picture.

      Their comparison is like comparing Banker wages between 2007 and 2011 and claiming that bankers are underpaid on a 5 year basis. In the case of bankers, they are paid more than twice average national wage in both 2007 and 2011, but compared to a boom they are not doing as well now.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:12PM (#42199561)

        Adding to that, they are missing the top wage earners, who have retired, and are now including the n00bs who are earning entry level (for their position) wages.

        If we went through a recession, and the several bubbles which have burst, and you only track individuals, there are some people who have lost jobs but average earnings are up. This is not a debate about how much people earn, which is where most people above gp were talking about.

        The topic at hand is this - if IT is important to the world, why are they not paying IT people more?

        The assumptions in the questions are beyond idiotic. As a whole, should everyone in IT be paid more just because we are important to the economy? Or are we just displacing people and earning their salaries?

        How many people worked in tech, multiplied by their salaries? And compare that to now?

        The still sluggish U.S. economy gets most of the blame for this wage stagnation, but factors such as outsourcing and automation also contribute to the problem, say analysts.

        "IT salaries have not really kept pace with inflation," said Victor Janulaitis, the CEO of Janco Associates, which reports on IT wage compensation.

        In 2000, the average hourly wage was $37.27 in computer and math occupations for workers with at least a bachelor's degree. In 2011, it was $39.24, adjusted for inflation, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

        Adjusted for inflation, we are $2 ahead. How does Victor's quote mean anything when placed directly next to a quote disputing it? Adjusted, we are ahead.

        Why Are IT Wages Flat? First paragraph - outsourcing, automation, and economy. WTF are the rest of you babbling on about?

        That translates to an average wage increase of less than 0.5% a year.

        Including all of the people who took retirement or quit for other industries, and all of the n00bs. The rest is explained in the article, leading to b4dc0d3r's law: NEVER read an article with a headline posed in the form of a question.

        The real story is the EPI report, second link. Microsoft wants more H1-B visas, which is not new in the least. Microsoft wants to pay people from lower wage countries less money to work in the US. If you spot the conclusion, good for you. Microsoft wants to keep wages flat.

        As a large tech employer, and someone who is lobbying for cheap labor, it's kinda obvious to me that dcblogs (submitter) is intentionally misusing statistics, and a poorly written CNET article, to prattle on about H1-B visas.

    • Inconvenient Facts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Safety Cap (253500) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:51PM (#42197669) Homepage Journal

      Want to cry in your soup?

      For the middle class, real wages haven't risen since 1978. (chart [motherjones.com]). Of course the upper class has made out like gangbusters.

      In other words, your buying power is the same as your Leisure Suit-wearing predecessors, whereas the rich have accumulated whole closets of never-been-used ivory-handled backscratchers.

  • ..so I'll just quickly say, my job sucks!
  • Because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Napkintosh (140126) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:57PM (#42196809) Homepage

    Because IT stuff is easy. I mean, you just type some things and click a few buttons, right? That's not hard. Why do you need 100k a year to do that?

    • Re:Because (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tuoqui (1091447) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:00PM (#42197819) Journal

      Well IT is fairly easy when everything is working.

      However, when shit hits the fan the skillsets that an IT professional have plus the penchant that most IT Pros have regarding troubleshooting and diagnosis is invaluable. If your website is dead in the water you're not making any money. If your network is breached you arent making money, you may be losing valuable company secrets to your compeditors.

      What is probably on the decline or 'flat' is the guy who takes your computer, wipes the spyware and viruses off it and gives it back to you. People with real IT skillsets are only going to go up.

    • Re:Because (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chewbacon (797801) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:35PM (#42198219)
      That's for managing existing equipment. It is easy. The real work comes with project planning and execution, having that insight of where you're going and what it'll take to get there and having a backup plan to get out while maintaining your uptime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:57PM (#42196811)

    ... why do they earn so little? Nobody wants dirty toilets.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:16PM (#42197111)
      People might confuse you for some sort of communist if you keep talking like that...

      No really, part of the issue here is that if one underpaid worker tries to demand better compensation, they'll just be replaced with someone else who doesn't mind the low compensation. People are trained from an early age to believe that janitorial work deserves low pay, and so if they are looking for a job cleaning toilets they generally expect low pay.
      • if one underpaid worker tries to demand better compensation, they'll just be replaced with someone else

        This is, in a nutshell, why capital wants high unemployment. The larger the reserve labor force, the faster uppity punks get replaced.

    • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:27PM (#42197291) Homepage Journal
      Exactly. Wages have to due with such things as barriers to entry, need and ability to supervise, as well as skill set. Importance of job seldom has anything to do with it. For example, executive officers are not necessarily paid well because they have important jobs, but because they they are dishonest, cannot be effectively supervised, and so they are paid high amounts to not screw the firm.

      Cleaning staff, however, can be easily supervised, intimidated, and if they do not do a good job the repercussions are limited. There is also a low barrier to such a job.

      What I think has happened, particularly in the past 10 years, is that software used to track IT resources has become very sophisticated. It has made it possible for the real software development to be executed by the average person. It has also allowed automated supervision IT staff. More business rules are encoded in the management packages.. In the 80's and 90's one had to have trust that the person who was working IT. Now the tools are there to not only check on the developer daily, but automated difficult tasks.

      So just like any other industry, automation has made highly skilled workers redundant. We no longer need a tailor to make our clothes. Anybody off the street can cook your food. Modern check out registers means that we no longer need have trust in our cashiers. And since so much IT is simply clicking icons and plugging things into other things, with measures taken to insure they cannot be plugged in wrong, there is really no reason a semi-literate person off the street can't be successful with minimal training.

      • Spoken like someone who's never seen a successful software company go under because years of junior developers made the system more and more impossible to maintain to the point that clients had to be told their defects were either unfixable or would take 6 months to fix at which point the clients went somewhere else. Yeah, unskilled workers can do the job just greeaaaat.... Good luck with that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Income growth has been shifting since the late 1990s from middle class to upper-middle and wealthy class.

    In fact in many sectors, incomes have been shrinking for those in lower management and below. Meanwhile, incomes of upper management (i.e. CEOs, University administrative staff) - basically people who really don't work or anything productive - have been sky rocketing.

    IT is very important... but as a CEO I don't want to pay a lot for it.

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:58PM (#42196847) Journal
    Engineers are the dumbest smart people in the world.
    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:37PM (#42197445) Homepage Journal
      I attribute that quote to one of those Wall Street types or sales guys who measure their success entirely by the size of their paycheck. "That engineer only makes $80k and has a tough job that required a complex degree with lots of math in it! What a maroon!" The engineer looks at the Wall Street guy making 3/4 of a million per year and goes "That guy hates his job, is always stressed out, works 90 hours every week, has no hobbies because his job is his life, any family he has he barely sees, it's kind of sad. Why make so much money if you won't get to spend it until after you're all burnt out?"

      Plus the Engineer gets the satisfaction of actually being productive and making something instead of just being a leeching middleman. And no, "liquidity" is not a product.
    • by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:43PM (#42197531)
      But they are only dumb to people who think wealth is the key to happiness. Most engineers I know are smarter than this and simply want an above-average job where they aren't worked to death and have family time. This makes them happy.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:59PM (#42196863)
    How does this compare with other employment sectors? Adjusted for inflation, real median household income in the United States went down between 1990 and 2010 [proximityone.com].
    • I'm calling it the Bush / Obama economy And I don't see any real improvement coming either. I haven't seen a COLA in years, but on the other hand, I'm grateful I have a job when so many people don't.

      • You should call it the Kennedy / Johnson / Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan / Bush / Clinton / Bush / Obama economy. Seriously, the basic economic policy in the US has not changed at all, only the delivery mechanisms (jobs programs vs. interest rate vs. tax cuts).

        I highly recommend you read this paper [escholarship.org]. Even if you disagree with Brenner's conclusions, the historical data should be enlightening.

  • Foreign pressure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sethstorm (512897) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:00PM (#42196869) Homepage

    Get rid of the guest workers and offshore pressure, then wages can rise.

    • I highly doubt this is the problem. At our company we will hire anyone who is really good at what they do. There simply aren't that many people. The US is cranking out people with degrees who pretty much suck. The rest of the world isn't doing any better but if you have 8B people pick from inevitably a good number are really good.

      I look at our company and others and the guest workers are all there because they were better than the domestic applicants. Some of whom are not only better but unique and n

  • Cry me a river. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:00PM (#42196875)
    The median household income in the US is $52,000 USA Quick Facts [census.gov]
    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:07PM (#42196995)

      Yeah but the national median level of education, training, and experience is only slightly above a zoo monkey, so only getting paid a tiny bit more for knowing a heck of a lot more seems a bit out of proportion.

      • by westlake (615356)

        Yeah but the national median level of education, training, and experience is only slightly above a zoo monkey...

        The numbers tell a different story. Educational attainment in the United States [wikipedia.org]

        "Zoo monkey."

        I don't believe I've ever heard the geek's contempt for other trades, crafts and professions expressed quite so clearly as this. It certainly helps to explain his boundless sense of entitlement.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:03PM (#42196917) Homepage Journal

    Most middle or working class occupations are suffering from *declining* pay. Holding steady is good these days. And think of all the people who were making $50K or $75K a few years ago and are now working for $10/hour or less.

    Here, I'll help:

    1... 2.... 3... 4... 5... 6...

    Count your blessings! :)

    • by AwesomeMcgee (2437070) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:20PM (#42198067)
      the "Quit complaining and count your blessings" demands are what we've been getting told for decades by those at the top, "Cry me a river", the sad part is now we repeat it to eachother, ignorant of the fact that they were merely telling us that crap to protect their own raising income. Look at the year-over-year income rise % since the 60s, it is amazingly ridiculous how much CEO income raises have gone up in % over the years, not in total. Also look at the % of population in the middle class vs. % of population in the lower class since the 60s. Come back when you think we should all just keep sucking it up and aren't convinced if we continue to "Quit complaining" the middle class won't be gone altogether.

      Last quarter the economy's profits grew quite a bit over previous quarters, however hiring remained flat. Quit complaining and work more hours, at least you've got a job right?
  • It's the economy, stupid.
  • Management is attempting to commoditise the IT workform however this relates to a fundamental misunderstanding of what IT is meant to do. IT is meant to either replace or augment people. Paying peanuts to commoditise your workforce and using BA to provide the insight is an attempt to apply Taylors principles to this problem. However it doesn't work in practice. Business needs to employ evolutionary models of software and system design and employ capable practictioners.
    Rule 1 If you can innovate
    Rule 2 If you

    • by PRMan (959735)

      If you're a MS shop, your doing it wrong because the software is not free. You're paying an overhead that you don't have to and licencing constrains your growth.

      And yet, we pay a lot less for Microsoft than we did for free open source. Figure that. Maybe Microsoft knows exactly what to charge to make the labor savings you get with their platform worthwhile.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:08PM (#42197021)
    My company prides itself on being "competitive" - which I take to mean they don't pay any more than they have to. The economy is in the tank, so they pay less (or lower raises) - you know, to be "competitive". After all, where else are employees going to go in this job market?
  • Capitalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:08PM (#42197023) Journal

    Because of capitalism. Those who do the real important work never get what they are actually worth, as it would cut into the profits made by executives and investors. The labor market cannot ensure that people get paid what they're worth--by which I mean the value they produce--because there's almost always someone willing to do it for less. We under cut each other fighting for scraps, and those at the top keep the bulk of what we produce. This is how capitalism works.

    • Re:Capitalism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by multiben (1916126) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:40PM (#42198271)
      Sure. We should just follow one of the many demonstrably successful socialist models.
  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:09PM (#42197029)

    I am surprised that it has take the world so long to realise that IT salaries are overpriced. Because the hardware used to be so rare and expensive the people who used it and looked after it were also rare and expensive.Now that the hardware is cheap as chips, and the labor market is approaching truly global is it a big surprise that salaries are flat?

    If a bad patch breaks my two year old $500 company laptop or a $200 tablet I am not going to pay somebody to fix it. I replace it and move my data over. There was a time when PCs cost thousands, and servers cost tens of thousands. People won't pay people $100/hr to fix a $200 devices.

    I also imagine that it is a heck of a lot cheaper to engage off-shore programmers than using local resources (you can't do that for a truck driver...) - supply and demand in a free market in action.

  • Rich Get Richer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Blank (172031) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:11PM (#42197051) Journal

    IT is not being picked on, in particular.
        Only the rich are getting richer [businessinsider.com].

    Click that link to see
    1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high.
    2) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low.

  • by mspohr (589790) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:13PM (#42197073)

    This is common across all sectors and all skill levels.
    The corporations have set things up so that the owners and managers capture all of the profit and any productivity gains. They have also bought enough politicians to keep their tax rates low so they don't have to contribute to the "general welfare". Corporate profits and upper management incomes are at record levels.
    The situation with tech wages is the same as that with WalMart employees. You are expendable and replaceable and if you make trouble you will be fired so just sit down and shut up and get to work. At least tech wages are above poverty level so they don't have to go on Medicaid and food stamps to survive... be thankful for small favors.
    The last time things were this far out of kilter was the 1930s and that gave rise to the union movement (as well as socialists and communists). This time, people seem more complacent and are just happy to have small crumbs.

  • by MrLogic17 (233498) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:17PM (#42197123) Journal

    Important != Valuable

    The cleaning crew is important. Long haul truckers are important. Neither are high paying jobs.

    Every occupation thinks theirs is the most important, and deserving of higher pay. IT is no different.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:27PM (#42197277)
      It could be that all those occupations are deserving of higher pay. Companies would not last long without competent workers, just like they would not last long without competent management, but the pay difference is not even close to being in proportion. Profit would be impossible if nobody was taking the time to determine what products a company makes, what services it provides, or what markets it operates in; profit would be equally impossible if nobody were taking the time to make products, provide customers with service, or actually work in those target markets.

      The Morlocks need the Elois; the Elois need the Morlocks.
  • This study focuses on "tech" positions (a very broad description) that require a Bachelor's degree. Here's what I'm left wondering after reading this:

    Are they adjusting for the fact that a low-skilled tech position (tech support) in 2000 paying $12/hr did not require a Bachelor's, but in the current workforce climate, the same low-skilled tech support job at the same pay rate commonly requires that applicants have "at least" an Associates, but preferably (read: we won't hire you if you don't have) a Bach
  • A lot of other people can do the same job, and they will accept a low wage. Food is even more important than tech, but farm laborers make much less than tech workers.

  • by matthaak (707485) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:26PM (#42197265) Homepage Journal
    What was the supply and demand for IT labor like 10 years ago? What is it like now? Therein lies the answer.
  • Price Fixing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by genfail (777943) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:28PM (#42197301)
    ..because the rich man has been engaging in price fixing for wages for the last thirty years across all areas of the economy except executive compensation.
  • by Burning1 (204959) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:28PM (#42197303) Homepage

    Seriously guys, are we complaining that wages are back up to .com levels? Am I the only one who remembers that as a few years of obscenely wasteful spending? Hell, I was a 16 year old making $40K a year back then.

    Could you imagine a banker complaining that they aren't back up to 2006 level salaries?

  • PHBs and credit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:36PM (#42197425)

    Two (related) reasons that I have heard as to why IT isn't valued as much as it should be (I myself am not in the IT field, so this is more like hearsay):

    Clueless PHB: This is partly the fault of those who work in IT not educating those higher up in the food chain. PHBs don't look on IT as producers, but as cost centers. So they try to skimp on hiring competent people. And the IT people don't have direct relations with the clients (in most firms), so when it comes time to decide bonuses or raises, IT is generally at the back of the line. While IT is what allows everyone else to raise money, the PHBs would rather look at a $60k fresher vs. a $120k experienced admin and ask why they shouldn't just outsource it for $45k. They don't see the downside in having a poor IT team even after it bites them (just fire one newbie and hire another in his place).
    One admin I know used this solution (based on "You and Your Research" by Richard Hamming) after most of his team were outsourced (not because the team was bad, but because the PHB saw cost savings): everytime the outsourcing created a problem and someone tried to scream at him (he was their internal liaison to the external contractor) he told them to go tell PHB "we lost/cost $X extra because the contractor screwed up." Only when the PHB saw how much the "real" cost of outsourcing IT was, did he reverse the policy.

    Taking Credit: As an old saying goes - the competent IT admin fixes problems before they happen. And then the PHB wonders why he is paying $X for new servers and infrastructure when the current system works fine. IT people should be more proactive about boasting about what they do. Sure, this is distasteful to lots of technical people. But guess what? Everyone else brags and lets their manager know (in a not so subtle way) of why they deserve more money: "I sold $YYY to MY clients". So the IT team needs to take credit for sales they help with. If an employee used a lot of resources to construct a portfolio for a client, it isn't all to the trader's credit. YOUR software and hardware helped him run simulations and generate the portfolio. So add THAT to your pitch. If one of the IT workers stayed up half the night so a client could get some figures/data - he should get credit instead of letting the suit tell the story. A knight wouldn't have killed the dragon unless he had a magic sword - but the armorer doesn't get any songs written about him.

    The flipside is to be realistic about what you are doing - this isn't the dot-com boom. Don't expect riches for trivial work. If you do good/tough work, expect to be compensated as well (and let your bosses know why YOU are better than everyone out there). But if you just make a CSS/HTML page, don't try to claim you are God's gift to the firm.

  • Lots of reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ErichTheRed (39327) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:37PM (#42197451)

    One very important point that you may have missed is this -- tech IS very important. Even organizations who don't care about IT beyond basic file and print have a stake in making sure things they use work well. But, IT is one of those fields where you can still cover over massive, huge, big balls of fail with money to the right vendor or cheap labor. Because of this, companies don't like to pay for competent help, or if they do, they squeeze every last nickel out of it that they can because they feel it's a waste.

    Also, "tech" is too broad. The desktop support guy changing toner cartridges, the help desk person changing passwords and the systems architect trying to make sure everything doesn't come crashing to a halt when you put it in the same room have very different jobs, skills and responsibilities. On the simple break-fix support/part-swapper side, the work is getting easier and more automated. This means that you can hire fewer people, and those that you do hire don't need to have as much specialist knowledge. I'm a systems engineer, dealing with Intel server boxes every day -- the vendors have resorted to putting an extra "Don't pull this drive out!" light on hard disks so that part swappers don't pull a second drive out of a failed disk array and cause data loss. Even though the failed drive has a big blinky red light on it. That tells me that customers have complained about this happening enough...so you can draw your own conclusions about skill sets. On the higher end, you just run into wage pressure, companies trying to get away with as little as they can.

    I think part of the reason for flat wages across the board is just the overall impression that "computers are simple" now, so why do we need to pay these geniuses to run them? Anyone in corporate IT is keenly aware of the "consumerization" trend, where everyone expects all systems to be as seamlessly integrated as their iPad, no matter how complex.

    So at least in "big corporate IT," there are a few things putting wage pressure on:

    • Automation - just like all the other office jobs, anything that isn't absolutely essential is being turned into an automatic process.
    • Ready supply of cheaper labor - ...and the lack of understanding that cheap labor may not always be the best way to spend money, especially if you have to pay a consultant 5x that amount later on to clean up the mess.
    • Lack of standards and understanding - IT is still seen as a magic box, and any attempts at standardizing things (_cough_ITIL_cough_) have just made things worse and completely pigeonholed a lot of IT employees.
    • Vast difference in skill sets - It is still very difficult to tell whether or not the person you hire is a complete dud based on the interview. I think that a lot of organizations pay less simply because they don't know whether they're actually getting competent help.
    • CapEx vs OpEx - In the old model, you kept employees on staff for a long time, trained them and they learned the business inside and out. Now, accounting makes it cheaper to just hire the people you need, when you need them, and pay them out of the operating expense budget.

    Things like this make IT a very difficult field to work in. I'm not stupid enough to call myself a rock star IT god, but I certainly feel I'm competent and do a good job. Fortunately, I have an employer who appreciates that (for now) and I do OK. The other class of people who are making serious coin in the IT "racket" are the nomadic consultants. How many places have you worked where these guys seem to parachute in out of the sky when a very narrow specialist problem needs to be solved, charge hundreds an hour for months, and are off to the next place requiring that same specialty just as quick as they came in? I know a lot of these guys personally (can't do the lifestyle if you're married or have any sort of ties to any one place or thing) and they're definitely not hurting. For those of us tied down by one thing

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:48PM (#42197613) Homepage Journal

    is that it's hard for a lot of managers to figure out who's valuable. Most smaller shops hire IT staff because they don't have the expertise in-house already. It's not like a cook that hires an assistant cook and can watch them and know if they are skilled or unskilled. I think most IT for smaller organizations are easy marks for unskilled IT, that can be incompetent and still appear valuable because the people doing the hiring and the managing can't properly assess a person's skills before OR after the hire.

    And I think this hurts the average pay. I've seen this happen a lot around here, where idiots are working IT for someone and the idiot moves on, leaving behind the managers to think that they need to find a replacement "as good as Tim", and are completely astounded to find that their new hire Jason actually knows what he's doing and is a massive improvement. Leaves them wondering "were we paying Tim too much, or are we paying Jason too little?"

    So now at least they know that good IT is worth paying more for, but the rest of the hiring pool out there that hasn't learned that lesson yet doesn't consider their IT all that valuable because they currently are employing an idiot and just have no idea how much more they could benefit from quality IT.

  • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:30PM (#42198173) Journal

    Y'all are making excuses for a much larger phenomenon. The implosion of the middle class. Here's [advisorperspectives.com] a comparison of wage growth for Americans from 1967 until 2011. Look at the various jumps in the curve. You can see the big jump in the late sixties of the lowest quartile, the clear results of the war on poverty. The economic doldrums at the end of the Carter Administration. The sudden increase during the Reagan first term, but take special notice of how the rise benefits the upper quintile and even more so the top 5% (and if you could see the top 1% and top 0.01% I think you'd see something shocking.) The subsequent fall during the senior Bush Administration followed by the boom of the Clinton years (and make no mistake, the booms during both Reagan and Clinton involved huge economic expansions in industry, heavy industry for Reagan and information industries for Clinton. Then junior Bush's Terms, and here's where it get's interesting. Notice the steady decline in advancement. The majority of Americans are seeing their wages crashing towards stagnation or worse. In fact looking at the lowest quintile, over the last 10 years they've had a 20% drop in real wealth. Even the first quintile has remained stagnant with extreme fluctuation. So this is not just an IT thing. The only folks to see dramatic increase in personal wealth over the last 10 years I in a group smaller than the top 1%.

    While that was going on, the real wealth of Americans at large has been disappearing. Here's a brilliant lecture on the looming collapse of the Middle Class [youtu.be] and the economic forces responsible for the situations we all face today. Contrary to pundits conversations Americans spend significantly fewer inflation adjusted dollars on food, clothes, appliances and cars. Where they are getting killed is Cost of Housing, revolving credit and loan debt, Medical Insurance and drugs, Child Day Care, Cost of Fuel/Energy, that and there are new expenses surrounding electronic gadgets that have been a steadily growing part of the cost of living since the late 80s.

    The Banks (both in banking, loans and real estate), Big Medicine/Pharma, and Energy have put the American Family in such a precarious position, that any small disruption or disturbance results in almost immediate financial collapse. The critical events facing Americans are Death of a spouse, Injury or Serious Illness, Divorce and extended Unemployment. Any of these (singly or in combination) are enough to initiate a cycle of debt, penalties and ultimate bankruptcy. Add to this growing inflation and the erosion of our savings and investments, and you can see that the American Family is under extraordinary financial stress. The American dream for a growing population is just being able to get by.

  • by brillow (917507) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:29PM (#42199711)

    If companies had a hard time finding skilled employees you'd expect wages to be rising, and they aren't.

    What CEOs mean when they say this is "We can't find skilled, educated employees who will work for pennies."

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