In the first six months of the year, 30,200 technology jobs were added to the economy, according to a report by industry trade group TechAmerica. The trade organization looked at data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The main areas adding jobs include software services (14,200), technology services (29,700) and technology manufacturers (9,100). These jobs were added between January and June of 2010. Official sentiments from TechAmerica executives are simultaneously optimistic and cautious. Job numbers in technology are still down compared with the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, but recovery in key areas is a positive sign, notes the trade group.
“Though the tech industry was among the last to feel the effects of the economic downturn of 2008-2009, it was not immune to job loss and is only slowly showing signs of climbing out of it,” said Josh James, vice president, research, for TechAmerica Foundation in a statement. “Tech employment, as of June 2010, stood at 5.78 million, compared with 5.99 million in January 2009. So there is still a way to go before we’ve made up for lost jobs, and continued recovery is by no means certain. With job growth in three of the four tech sectors, we remain guardedly optimistic.”
One area that has shed jobs in 2010 is telecommunications, which saw a loss of 22,800 jobs. Year over year, technology jobs saw a 1.2 percent decline, losing 72,800 jobs.
“We have weathered the storm better than most,” said TechAmerica president and CEO Phil Bond in a statement. “From its position embedded in every other industry, technology remains the best hope for driving robust recovery across the economy. America can only realize the full promise of an innovation recovery with smarter public policies focused on developing and attracting the best talent, investing in research and development, and growing and securing our information infrastructure.”
The question remains, however, whether companies will be driving the growth of high technology jobs in this country or will they be doing so abroad? Many of the major technology corporations, such as IBM, HP, Microsoft and Cisco, have burgeoning research and development facilities abroad and are hiring local talent in other parts of the world, including in Asia, South and Central America, Canada and Eastern Europe.
There is little denying that much of the growth for U.S. multinational companies is abroad, and the jobs are expanding in these locales.
“While cost savings are the strongest motivation [for moving R&D offshore], companies are also going abroad to tap global talent pools and to be closer to growth markets,” wrote Vivek Wadhwah, senior research associate at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School in a 2009 article for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “Some of the biggest U.S. companies now get most of their revenue from abroad. Hewlett-Packard gets 69% of its revenue from outside the U.S., and Caterpillar gets 67%. IBM gets 63%, while Intel and Pfizer each generate 57% of sales from foreign markets.”
With recent changes to H-1B visa fees and measures in such states as Ohio that ban the use of offshore outsourcing services, there is a protectionist sentiment in the air that aims to help U.S. workers-but could keep business growth in the developing world from expanding to U.S. shores.
“There’s been this assumption that there’s a global hierarchy of work, that all the high-end service work, knowledge work, R&D work would stay in U.S., and that all the lower end work would be transferred to emerging markets,” noted Hal Salzman, a public policy professor at Rutgers and a senior faculty fellow at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. “That hierarchy has been upset, to say the least. More and more of the innovation is coming out of the emerging markets, as part of this bottom-up push.”