Report: Technology Wages Stabilize Through Half of 2009

An index report on wages for technology workers shows a steady course. Wages remaining stable is good news for many workers. Yet it's difficult for some to say there is "cautious optimism" in the technology rank and file with IT unemployment at six-year highs.

Technology staffing firm Yoh says technology wages are lightly up through the second quarter of 2009. Using data it gathers from IT workers with jobs, the quarterly "Yoh Index of Technology Wages" shows technology wages up 1.07 percent.

The Yoh report analyzes 20,000 paychecks of 5,000 temporary technology workers in four-week cycles. As a comparison to other recessions, Yoh's data shows that this recession has been more resilient to wage fluctuation than others in recent economic history.
"Yoh began indexing pay rates in the technology sectors in January 2001. The technology wage market experienced an unstable year in 2001 and then fell dramatically after Sept. 11. Wages experienced another up-and-down year in 2002, but were then up slightly in 2004, as compared to 2003. In 2005 and 2006, tech wages consistently outpaced national trends with 2007 wages starting out strong but slowed at the end of the year. 2008 brought on a decline through the first two quarters, and finished flat. The first two quarters of 2009 show wages holding steady, supporting cautious optimism for the economy as a whole."
Looking at hourly rates quarter-by-quarter shows that through week 24 of 2009, the average hourly rate for technology workers is $32.44. The average looks at occupations in "aviation, engineering, IT, manufacturing, scientific, telecommunications and utility communities," according to Yoh's published methodology.

In week 24 of 2002, for reference, the Yoh index had the average rate pegged at $28.07.

"Wages in professional and technology sectors remained stable, but in no way represent overwhelming evidence that the recession is done impacting the work force," said Lori Schultz, president of Yoh, in a news release. "The continued demand for highly specialized, technical workers paired with the stability in associated wages leads us to be cautiously optimistic that economic restoration is in progress."

Wages remaining stable is good news for many workers. Yet it's difficult for some to say there is "cautious optimism" in technology ranks.

Technology job loss is at its highest levels in six years. Recent analysis of third-quarter employment numbers for technology by GovInfoSecurity show a challenging job environment. IT is better off than most industries, and though wages are holding steady, the industry is suffering.

"These numbers show that the IT profession, like most other occupations, has experienced significant job losses caused by the recession, although declines in the IT field are nowhere near as dire as in the overall work force. Last month, overall unemployment rose to 9.8 percent, the highest rate since June 1983.

"Still, there was no good news in the IT numbers. In the past year, some 100,000 IT workers joined the ranks of the unemployed. And the size of the IT work force - those holding jobs and the unemployed seeking IT work - fell to below 4 million for the first time in five quarters. Annualized, IT employment stood at 3,775,000 last quarter, with 198,000 out of work and hunting for jobs."