14 October 2003 Washington D.C. Lightwave--Although the unemployment rate for all workers fell slightly in the third quarter, the rate moved in the opposite direction for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers (EEs), according to data compiled by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The jobless rate for EEs rose from 6.4% in the second quarter to 6.7% in the third, while the rate for all workers fell from 5.6% to 5.5%. At the same time, the number of employed EEs fell by 37,000 (from 386,000 to 349,000).
The 6.7% figure is more than six times as high as it was in 1997 (1%), and more than five times as great as 2000 (1.2%). The EE unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 7% in the first quarter of 2003.
Despite continuing high levels of EE unemployment, the government has issued more than 900,000 H-1B visas in new, renewal, and exempt categories since FY 2000, many of them in high-tech fields.
"We're pleased that Congress allowed the annual H-1B cap to drop to 65,000 earlier this month, but U.S. EEs are still competing for scarce jobs in an artificially saturated labor market," said John Steadman, IEEE-USA president-elect. "In addition, demand is shrinking as high-tech jobs are outsourced overseas. Despite the bleak employment outlook, some H-1B proponents are still calling on Congress to increase the number of visa exemptions."
Among other high-tech professionals, the unemployment rate jumped for computer hardware engineers (5.7% to 6.9%), computer software engineers (4.1% to 4.6%), and network and computer systems administrators (5.6% to 7.6%). The rate fell for computer scientists and systems analysts (5.6% to 4.8%), computer programmers (7.5% to 7.1%), and network systems and data communications analysts (5.5% to 5%).
The third-quarter jobless rate for mechanical engineers rose slightly from 3.1% to 3.3%, while the rates for civil engineers (3.9%) and industrial engineers (5.9%)remained the same.
IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers created in 1973 to advance the public good, while promoting the careers and public-policy interests of the more than 235,000 electrical, electronics, computer and software engineers who are U.S. members of the IEEE. The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society.