April 06, 2009, 5:19 PM — The unemployment rate for engineering and computer occupations is rising faster than for other professionals, according to the IEEE, which says first quarter labor statistics reveal a significant increase in the jobless rates among engineers.
According to a press release from the IEEE, the unemployment rate for all engineers jumped from 2.9% to 3.9% from the last quarter of 2008 to the first quarter this year. The IEEE says the numbers grew faster when compared with the increase in unemployment from quarter to quarter for all professional workers -- from 3% to 3.7% -- over the same timeframe. And perhaps even more worrisome, the IEEE says, is the increase of the unemployment rate from 1.2% overall in 2007 to nearly 4% now.
"We at IEEE-USA are concerned about how rapidly engineering and computer-related unemployment is trending upwards," said Gordon Day, president of IEEE-USA, in a statement.
Breaking it down, the unemployment rate for electrical and electronics engineers rose from 2.4% to 4.1%. Mechanical engineers saw an increase from 2.1% to 4.2% in jobless rates and aerospace engineers experienced a less dramatic increase in unemployment rates from 1.1% to 1.4%, over the same timeframe. The IEEE based its findings on numbers released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In computer occupations, the unemployment rate for software engineers went from 1.9% to 4.2%, and for computer scientists and systems analysts, the change was from 3% to 5.7% from quarter to quarter. High-tech managers also experienced job losses in the quarter. Computer and information systems managers saw the jobless rate rise from 2.7% to 4% and engineering managers experienced a lesser increase, from 1% to 1.8%, the IEEE reports.
"Engineers create new jobs so these data are very discouraging," Day said. "Engineers strengthen companies and start new ones, leveraging the economy upwards. The fundamental need is for capital to support engineering activity."