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Poll Result: Software Engineering Job Market Reflects Sluggish Economy

Posted by editor on March 19, 2010 at 10:53 AM PDT

The results of this past week's poll suggest that the global economic recovery has a long way to go before most software engineers will feel like the job market has returned to normal -- but, maybe we're past the bottom, or at least at the bottom (things won't get any worse?). A total of 295 votes were cast in the poll. Here's the exact question and the results:

Is the software engineering job market improving?

  • 19% (56 votes) - Yes, there's plenty of work available now
  • 27% (79 votes) - It's not too bad now, I'll get by
  • 21% (62 votes) - I'm still waiting for the promised "recovery"
  • 6% (18 votes) - The situation continues to worsen
  • 25% (75 votes) - I don't know
  • 2% (5 votes) - Other

For about a fifth of developers, the global economic crisis never really had much effect on their employment opportunities -- work has remained plentiful. This was also reflected in our 2010 outlook poll, where 22% of the voters selected "2009 was great for me; 2010 will be great too"; and in our mid-2009 Java technologies employment market poll, where 20% of voters said the employment market was "excellent, plenty of opportunities."

Somewhere, in the past few months, I read that in the Great Depression of the 1930s, for those who had a job, times were actually pretty good. This article was talking specifically about the United States. However, at several points in the 1930s only 75% of U.S. people who wanted to work had a job.

Right now, a year and a half after the global economic near-meltdown, a lot of people aren't in a comfortable situation with respect to jobs. In our current poll, 21% are still waiting for the "recovery" and 6% find the situation continuing to worsen.

Another not too encouraging set of data points: in last June's poll, 47% said the Java technologies employment market was "stable, I have enough work"; but in the current poll, only 27% said the software engineering market is "not too bad now, I'll get by."

Of course, these are not scientific polls, and the questions and response options were not identical. Still, my assessment is that these results offer a pretty gloomy view.

How about the 25% who selected "I don't know" in this week's poll? We've had the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s, and 25% of people don't know if the software engineering market is improving? Doesn't that suggest that these people think we may well be right at the bottom? They didn't select "the situation continues to worsen" but they don't know if the job market is improving. That means, I think, that times are still bad for many of these people. Possibly, of course, some people who have plenty of work selected "I don't know" -- but my guess is that the majority who selected this do not see bright horizons at present.

Are economic times really bad now? I've made most of my lifetime income developing software that analyzes data, so I tend to rely on plots to make many of my judgments on what's happening and how things are changing over time. Right now, there are a lot of scary graphs out there! See, for example, Mike Shedlock's I'm Sure Glad The Recession Ended.

If you want to get even more scared, visit sites like ZeroHedge and Reggie Middleton's BoomBustBlog.

Mind you, people have been predicting the collapse of civilization for as long as I can remember. What's scary now, though, is that such talk is backed up by graphs and tables produced and interpreted by very intelligent people.

So, we must all be as productive as we possibly can be! How else can we help lift the global economy out of its slump?

New poll: Java EE

Which leads me to the new poll, which is about Java EE, something that seems to be facilitating quite high levels of productivity today. Many who attended James Gosling's keynote at TheServerSide Java Symposium this week were very enthusiastic watching the Java EE 6 demos -- see my collation of tweets from James's keynote to see what I mean.

Then there's Lincoln Baxter's Why doesn