BLS reported 327,000 employed EEs in the first quarter of 2004 vs. 386,000 in the second quarter last year, a decline of 59,000 employed EEs from the 2003 quarter with the highest employment. EE employment was 349,000 in last year's fourth quarter, a decline of 22,000.
The EE unemployment rate increased from 4.5 percent in the final quarter of 2003 to 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2004, an increase of 17.8 percent. The average for 2003 was a record 6.2 percent, compared to the more typical 1.3 in 2000 and 2.0 in 2001.
The joblessness rate for computer scientists and systems analysts, which averaged a record 5.2 percent last year, went from 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter to an all-time high of 6.7 in the first quarter, a 24.1 percent rise. The number of people employed in the field averaged 722,000 in 2003; the first-quarter figure was down to 672,000.
"The latest statistics indicate that times are still tough for engineers," IEEE-USA President John Steadman said. "The continued shrinkage of the electrical and electronics engineering workforce should send up warning flags that the United States may be losing ground in its technological competitiveness."
The news was mixed in other computer and information technology fields. The quarterly unemployment rate for computer hardware engineers fell from 9.0 percent in the fourth quarter to 4.9 in the first quarter. Computer software engineers experienced a drop from 4.5 percent to 3.3. The unemployment rate for computer programmers, however, nearly doubled from 4.6 percent to 9.0.
IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the IEEE. It was created in 1973 to advance the public good and promote the careers and public-policy interests of the more than 225,000 technology professionals who are U.S. members of the IEEE. The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society. For more information, go to http://www.