Study: Slow Job Growth in Tech Sector

New report says job growth is weaker than IT industry claims.

(Seattle) Job growth in the nation's information technology industry has been weaker than some industry leaders have claimed, according to a new report. From March 2004, about two months before the industry began to recover, to February 2006, the high-tech sector has added roughly 88,600 jobs -- less than one-quarter of the roughly 400,000 jobs lost during the three previous years, the report said.

One upside, the report said, is that "there remains considerable slack in IT labor markets, so they should be able to fill new vacancies rapidly if the recovery continues."

Wednesday's report by the University of Illinois, Chicago's Center for Urban Economic Development was prepared for the Seattle-based Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. It examined the state of the technology industry, gauging employment trends nationally and in eight key metropolitan labor markets.

The report said job recovery seems to be strongest in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, while Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Jose, Calif., have seen relatively modest increases in jobs.

"Technology job growth is weak at best in most major markets across the country," WashTech President Marcus Courtney said in a statement.

The report found that since the mid-1990s, a growing number of jobs, including code writing, software design, data processing, claims processing and customer service, have been outsourced overseas where they can be done more cheaply.

The report said it is not known how many high-tech workers have sought jobs in other fields, or how many are underemployed, meaning their jobs don't allow them to put their technology skills to use.

National unemployment rates in the information technology sector peaked at 7.9 percent in 2002, declining to 3.9 percent in 2005.