CNet has this story on new employment figures released by the Department of Labor that shows a drop in the rate of unemployment for “computer and mathematical occupations” and “electrical and electronic engineers.” But the change might not be because of the most favorable reasons:
The unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations–a category that includes computer programmers, computer software engineers and computer scientists and systems analysts–fell from 5.7 percent in the first half of 2003 to 5 percent in the first half of this year, according to the Labor Department. Unemployment dropped even more dramatically for electrical and electronic engineers–from 6.7 percent in the first half of 2003 to 3.1 percent in the first half of 2004.
But unemployment levels alone don’t tell the whole story for workers still recovering from the dot-com bust. For example, the average number of people employed in computer and math jobs dropped by 72,000 from the first half of 2003 to the first half of this year, to 3,038,000. A similar trend occurred among electrical and electronic engineers over the same period. Their average employment fell by 39,000, to 339,000.
In other words, if employment and the jobless rate are both dropping, it may not mean better times in these tech-related fields. It may just mean that unemployed tech workers are giving up fruitless job searches.