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The Incredible Shrinking Workforce

Posted by dmax69 on August 9, 2004 at 8:27 AM PDT

Eric Chabrow recently contributed an

article
to Information Week in which he analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics specific to IT professionals. Some 160,000 fewer Americans identify themselves as IT professionals as was the case in 2001. At the same time, the total U.S. employment in IT fell from 3.5 million to 3.2 million -- shrinking some 7%.

Some categories of IT professionals naturally shrunk while others grew. The number of computer software engineers, for example, grew by 8% during the period in question, while the number of programmers fell 17%. There are 60% more IT managers today than in 2001 (which includes "staff" management functions as well, or those who function with some management responsibilities but no direct reports or line management authority). Computer support specialists fell by 8%.

So what does all this mean?

A number of things may or may not be affecting the overall health of IT professions. A few explanations that come to mind might include:

  1. The data itself is flawed
  2. Many dot-com enriched IT pros have retired
  3. The economy in general has not done well since 2001
  4. Companies are outsouring IT jobs to non-U.S. locales
  5. Increasing productivity outpaces IT demand
  6. It's all the fault of Bill Gates and George W.
  7. Development tools are getting better
  8. Off-the-shelf software is getting better
  9. The IT industry is fully mature
  10. A reality TV gig is a better job prospect

While it is likely that a combination of things have given rise to a changing fitscape with respect to IT jobs, it is interesting to note that a shift has occurred, something which has not heretofore affected IT professions so dramatically; not since the invention of the integrated circuit have we seen such a decline. So what do you think?

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