WASHINGTON (6 April 2009) -- The unemployment rate for U.S. engineering and computer occupations is increasing more rapidly than for professional occupations in general, according to data released Friday by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
"Engineers create jobs, so these data are very discouraging," IEEE-USA President Gordon Day said. "Engineers strengthen companies and start new ones, leveraging the economy upwards. The fundamental need is for capital to support engineering activity. That's why the government's investments in technology and its efforts to restore the banking system are so important."
The unemployment rate for all engineers jumped from 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009. For all computer occupations, the rate went from 3.3 percent to 5.4 percent. In comparison, the quarter-to-quarter rate for all professional workers increased from 3 percent to 3.7 percent.
For electrical and electronics engineers the jobless rate rose from 2.4 percent to 4.1 percent, quarter to quarter. For mechanical engineers, it went from 2.1 percent to 4.2 percent. Aerospace engineers suffered less, with an increase from 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent.
In computer occupations, the rate for software engineers went from 1.9 percent to 4.2 percent. For computer scientists and systems analysts the change was from 3 percent to 5.7 percent.
High-tech managers also experienced unemployment increases. For computer and information systems managers, the rate rose from 2.7 percent to 4 percent. For engineering managers it went from 1 percent to 1.8 percent.
"We at IEEE-USA are concerned about how rapidly engineering and computer-related unemployment is trending upwards," Day said. "In 2007 the overall engineering unemployment rate was only 1.2 percent."
IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society with 375,000 members in 160 countries. See http://www.