11 July 2003 Washington, DC Lightwave -- The unemployment rate for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers (EEs) dropped in the second quarter, but remains well above the rate for other high-tech professionals, according to data compiled by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
After climbing to an unprecedented 7.0 percent in the first quarter, the EE jobless rate fell to 6.4 percent, still more than twice the rate for all managers and professionals (3.1 percent). Mechanical engineers were unemployed at a rate at 3.1 percent, civil engineers at 3.9 percent, and industrial engineers at 5.9 percent.
"The data suggests the EE unemployment rate went down because new jobs were added, not because of a reduction in the unemployed EE population," IEEE-USA President-Elect John Steadman said. "Just who these new jobs are going to is not clear, although we're concerned that many of them are being filled by temporary guest workers."
The BLS report showed that 17,000 more EEs were employed in the second quarter versus the first (386,000 versus 369,000), but that the number of jobless EEs held steady at 28,000. At 6.4 percent, the rate of EE joblessness is more than six times as high as it was in 1997 (1.0), and more than four times as great as 2000 (1.2).
The second-quarter unemployment rate for all workers was 5.6 percent. The number of U.S. workers claiming jobless benefits in late June reached its highest point since February 1983, the Labor Department said.
While the jobless rate fell from 7.5 percent to 4.1 percent for computer software engineers and from 6.5 percent to 5.7 percent for computer hardware engineers, it rose from 6.7 percent to 7.5 percent for computer programmers. Computer scientists and systems analysts also saw an increase in unemployment from 4.9 percent to 5.6 percent. Despite the percentage drop for computer software engineers, 36,000 jobs were lost in that occupational category.