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Despite troubled times for the U.S. economy, tech professionals post higher salaries than ever

There were plenty of tech professional layoffs in 2007.  AOL cut 2,000 employees and Motorola announced 4,000 more layoffs.  To top it off tech retailer CompUSA virtually went under and Circuit city struggled, posting more job cuts.  In January the news broke of Yahoo would lay off 1,000 more employees; Sprint, also struggling, planned to cut 4,000 workers

With all these troubles, it certainly seems like the U.S. tech professional industry must be in dire times to match the general sentiment on the current U.S. economy -- a downward trend towards uncertainty.

However, the reality of the tech professional market couldn't be far from that.  Despite the gloom and doom news, tech professionals made record salaries in 2007.  Tech salaries hit an all-time high, with an hourly average wage of $32.39 in October 2007.  This dipped and fluctuated a bit in November and December, but remained very high. 

The estimate was compiled by IT staffing firm Yoh, who has done estimates for many years.  According to Yoh, the average tech salary in 2007 increased to $31.62, up from $30.17 in 2006. 

For the fourth quarter the average wage in 2007 was up to $31.92, from $30.17 average in Q4 '06.  Despite this increased, Yoh acknowledged that Q4 '07 had some ups and downs and saw a general slowing of growth.  Jim Lanzalotto, VP of marketing and strategy for Yoh states, "There was still growth in Q4, but not as robust."

Still Lanzalotto is "cautiously optimistic" that "solid mid-single digit growth" will continue in the coming year for tech wages.  He says key factors to the growth in 2007 and continued growth in 2008 are strong pockets of demand for SAP talent, project managers, and data warehousing skills.

Meanwhile we can take news stories like Dell's 900 employee layoff with a grain of optimism, knowing that in general at least, the market is at an all time high. 

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Don't quit your night job
By jhinoz on 2/15/2008 11:08:07 AM , Rating: 5
So average IT industry professional enjoyed about a 4.5% increase in wages, just about piping inflation. nice.

any way back to the street corner for me .. it's friday night after all, time to put on the fish nets.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By tuteja1986 on 2/15/2008 11:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
Not as high as the old days where if you knew how to use dos you got paid 150K a year :) lol

RE: Don't quit your night job
By jhinoz on 2/15/2008 11:18:16 AM , Rating: 2
man i've still got a copy of dos 2.01 on 5 1/4" floppy

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Souka on 2/15/2008 11:24:56 AM , Rating: 1
150K/yr for knowing dos?

Dang, I never made over 110k/yr back in the early 90's at MS. Could barely afford the Testarossa from Park Place Motor's nearby... :(

RE: Don't quit your night job
By wempa on 2/15/2008 12:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
He's not too far off. Back in the late 90s, I knew people making over $80/hour just to administer a Unix change tracking application. Keep in mind that they didn't actually have to write program code or do ANYTHING that required an actual computer science degree !!! All they did was add users and run various reports. It's no wonder that there was such a big correction made in the industry in the early 2000s.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Murst on 2/15/2008 1:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
What's funny is that high-salary stuff seems to be coming back.

Recently I completed a job that paid $80 / hour (free-lancing). And I've also been getting more requests via email / phone for other freelancing jobs, although I'm kinda busy atm.

However, I do not think it will get back to what it was pre 2k. Before, you didn't really need to know much. Now people are expecting comp-sci degress (or other engineering degrees). However, if you meet their qualifications, you'll probably be rewarded w/ good pay.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By wempa on 2/15/2008 2:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it's actually a better situation now. The truly talented people get paid well. You don't see the average Joe who read "Teach Yourself C in 21 Days" getting paid a six figure salary anymore. Too many people used to think they were computer experts just because they learned to write a little code to do something trivial like adding up a list of numbers. Nowadays, technical interviews will weed out people like this so only the truly knowledgeable will be considered and paid appropriately.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By arazok on 2/15/2008 3:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree. We had a bout last summer where everyone in my company went to the boss demanding more money (and got it in every case).

I decided to take a stab at it, but I wanted to have an offer from another company in case they said no. #1, it took me 2 interviews and 3 days to get a job offering me 15% more then I was already making. #2, it took my employer 3 hours to counter with a 25% increase.

This isn't ground breaking stuff for good talent (which I like to think I am). What truly amazed me was that we had some total morons demanding huge raises and getting them. These guys should have been getting fired.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Polynikes on 2/15/2008 1:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
That's a crying shame.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By robinthakur on 2/15/2008 12:33:35 PM , Rating: 1
You can still get paid that, you just need to know something current-yet-niche like Sharepoint and you can hit $160k per year easily. I'm in the UK though, maybe things are different in the US.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Murst on 2/15/2008 1:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
Sharepoint was niche like 4 years ago. I'd say 30% of all consulting jobs list sharepoint as a requirement atm here in the US.

And yes, the pay is good, although it is probably around the 40-60$ range in the midwest, depending on your experience and actual skills.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By mdogs444 on 2/15/08, Rating: -1
RE: Don't quit your night job
By Ringold on 2/15/08, Rating: 0
RE: Don't quit your night job
By barjebus on 2/15/2008 12:14:09 PM , Rating: 3
If employer's didn't adjust wages with regards to inflation, not a single person would ever work for them. Are employee's just supposed to somehow live on the same amount of money regardless of constant annual inflation? They aren't "required" by any law other than the one that says you need employee's to actually be called a "business".

RE: Don't quit your night job
By wempa on 2/15/2008 12:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. They don't *have* to give you a raise, but they damn well know that nobody is going to keep working for the same amount of money when inflation keeps driving up costs. Why do you think that even poor performers often get like 1%-2% raises ? Heck, people won't even stick around for JUST a cost of living increase. That's basically just treading water, not moving ahead.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Ringold on 2/15/2008 1:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
You're both assuming strong economic conditions. In a middling or retracting economy, businesses can and do keep wages flat. They're "sticky" and thus tend not to actually go in to full reverse, but they can be flat and stay flat for years. And yes, a worker will indeed continue working for them because simultaneously the job market would be weak.

There's also nothing to my knowledge in wage theory that says companies have to give 1-2% real raises just for nothing. There has to productivity gains or something to pay for it. I tried to find a wiki entry for it, but wikipedia falls over itself in a gushing attempt to only talk about Marxist aspects of labor, so, I failed.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By wempa on 2/15/2008 3:05:53 PM , Rating: 2
You have a valid point. When the economy is not doing so well or the company isn't performing well, a company might not give out raises. However, no company can believe that they can retain their workforce if they don't give out raises on a consistent basis. Inflation is typically between 2%-4% each year. So, if you aren't at least increasing by the inflation rate, you are going backwards.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By arazok on 2/15/2008 3:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think the right way to say it is that employers are not required to pay you anything but market value (whatever you are willing to work for). However, the reality is that market value more or less moves in tandem with inflation.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Ringold on 2/15/2008 12:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
Core-inflation for all of 2007 was 2.4%, lower in fact than 2006's 2.7%. If you include food and energy, which effect different people at different levels and doesn't allow for substitution and haven't been rebalanced in years to reflect actual consumption levels, the number was 4.1%.

It seems hard to me to characterize a 2.1% annual wage growth as a bad thing. If you saw the pathetic gains workers in a lot of developed countries received, well, you wouldn't be quite so spoiled. The average german worker gained 5 euro's from 1986 to 2006, for example. 2.1% growth is strength, not weakness. In fact, it's a little high.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By on 2/15/2008 4:16:50 PM , Rating: 3
That's the massaged "official" (i.e. bologna) figure for inflation. If calculated using the methodology used back in 1980 and before, the actual rate would be double-digit, about 12%. But that would be really bad for government PR and Cost of Living Increases for various federal retirement, entitlement and employment obligations, so the true figure can't be allowed.

RE: Don't quit your night job
By Ringold on 2/17/2008 2:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
I just went and did a little research on that site, and it's primarily useless propaganda pawned off on people apparently willing to part with their money for subscriber access.

Unfortunately, M3 is useless, just about everyone agrees its useless, and thus the Fed stopped spending the millions of dollars trying to track it.

As for their CPI figures, that's interesting, but unfortunately also useless. A fact of life is that as prices change, preferences change. In respect to changing goods inside of categories, and moving spending across categories, the index, whose purpose is to measure the costs we face, understandably shift around trying to follow real-world private expenditures. In fact, the primary argument among economists is that it doesn't rebalance fast enough and that it's measure of housing in particular is whacky, greatly overstating inflation; if it measured that correctly, we could very well be facing overall flat or negative inflation rates. Go ahead, use your brain, look at the housing data at the BLS; it shows consistent rises. Then go get your house appraised and compare it to a couple years ago. That look like inflation to you? Normal folk would call that depreciation.

It also attacks "core" inflation. There's a simple reason why the financial media talks about core inflation, though that website would leave you in total ignorance of it. Interest rates set by the Federal Reserve aren't significantly influenced by food and energy costs because they flail about independent of interest rates; their secular price appreciation is due to factors beyond their control (rising demand, slow growing supply). The Fed wont set policy based on those numbers because they have no/little effect on them, and financial markets must be able to anticipate where the Fed will set interest rates, so why look at the headline number? Additionally, companies face the same fuel costs the rest of us do, and if it really does kick the economy in the pants then we would see that reflected in the core inflation since they'd hike their prices on products and services. Thus far, hasn't happened.

In addition to that.. different people are impacted in wildly different rates. I've got a cousin that drives all of 2 blocks to work. I drive 50 miles round trip daily. I know people that spend $75 on a steak, and I get equivalent quality across town for $20. Alternatively, I could go home and probably get the same for cheaper with a little of my own labor. It's a good exercise to watch the headline data, but what really matters is core; thats where a lot of our spending ends up going, thats where inflation can really hurt.

Anyway, fork over your cash to ShadowStats if you so desire, but they're stuck in 1970s theory. That or they're willfully stirring the pot just to get gullible peoples money.

salaries high?
By hellokeith on 2/15/2008 11:26:32 AM , Rating: 2

I must be working in the wrong area!!! I wasn't even making $32/hr back in the web/net boom in 2001.

RE: salaries high?
By Murst on 2/15/2008 12:21:32 PM , Rating: 1
As a developer (or programmer, whatever), 32/hour is probably an entry level position, and that's here in the midwest, which is probably the lower end of the spectrum in the US.

Of course, this article covers the tech field pretty broadly, so these averages don't mean much as the range of incomes is huge. Some entry tech support will probably earn $10-$15 while some consultants will be getting 150+ / hour.

RE: salaries high?
By SlingXShot on 2/15/2008 12:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you are but entry level positions are still in low 20's such as 22/h ~ 45K in NYC area...look at hot jobs... junior programmers no more than 50K. You will be lucky even if you get something in the 40's. Senior programmers start 70K - 80K a year. Thought down side of programmers they will be stuck as one for the next 20 years. It is hard for programmers to go from a tech job to a director job. No one wants those. And ur always stuck with less 100K no matter how long you work.

RE: salaries high?
By Murst on 2/15/2008 12:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
45k in NYC? That just seems off.

I guess I don't know any programmers in that area, so I realy can't dispute that. Although I do have a friend who started a designer job in Manhattan and is making just over 80k a year his first year, which is about double the salary for a simlar position here.

It would seem very strange that his salary would be double the average here, but programmer salary be much lower.

I don't know of any developer in my area who makes less than $30/hour consulting either... We are talking about developer positions, comp-sci graduates... right?

RE: salaries high?
By FITCamaro on 2/15/2008 1:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
I was making $32 an hour on paper at my last job and I'm only 25. Off paper it was a bit more since I didn't pay taxes on a lot of it due to per diem from being a contractor.

Now I'm making a bit less but have a full time job and benefits.

RE: salaries high?
By AlphaVirus on 2/15/2008 4:57:35 PM , Rating: 2
$32/hr? 67k/yr?
What do I have to do to get that type of pay, and what area do you live in? West coast, mid, or east coast?

I am at $21/hr 45k/yr for a Project Manager posistion. I am 20 years old now but I want to be well off by the time I reach 25 and I plan on purchasing a house in 2 years so if I can get a higher pay that would be great. Oh and I live in Texas, have 0% college but I and am about to go to school for Electronics Engineering. Any advice?

I need to move
By Spivonious on 2/15/2008 11:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
The average salary for programmers in my area is only $50k, not $66k :(

RE: I need to move
By bighairycamel on 2/15/2008 11:20:03 AM , Rating: 2
"Tech Professionals" is too broad a term to be specifically programmers. So $50k may be an expected income.

Occupational outlook handbook - great way to guage nation-wide statistics on a more specialized area like porgramming.

RE: I need to move
By mdogs444 on 2/15/2008 12:06:14 PM , Rating: 4
I'd be willing to bet that the average cost of living in your area is lower than in the areas were $66k is average.

Of course the aveage is going up...
By EndPCNoise on 2/15/2008 11:08:49 AM , Rating: 5
Most of those layoffs were employees with hourly wages at the lower end of the scale.

By wolfpack1825 on 2/15/2008 12:59:37 PM , Rating: 2
Here in Calgary, Alberta the wages are through the roof in IT. Most of my peer's can easily make 90 dollars an hour +. So things are great in IT in Alberta, Canada. Oil companies can't live without IT. As long as they make money, we make money. Hope the trend last's but its never too late to have a downturn.

UAW would not be happy
By dever on 2/16/2008 2:43:55 PM , Rating: 3
That's less than what union lackies demand for putting bolts on a car chassis. I can't imagine why GM isn't competative.

RE: UAW would not be happy
By StevoLincolnite on 2/18/2008 9:32:56 AM , Rating: 2
Depends where you live, In Australia there really is only 3 cars that come to mind; the Ford, the GM Holden, and Rice Burners.
Basically people are split between the Ford and Holden, and More often than not the Holden outsells the ford.

By immortalsly on 2/15/2008 1:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
If you go read the Information Week article, the top part says: Average wages fell 88 cents to $31.51 in November, based on data on nearly 5,000 tech professionals contracted out for long- and short-term projects .

So this is about hourly contract workers, not regular John Smith with his salary job. True enough, my regular salary IT job as a senior systems admin (with benefits, vacation, and such) only pays about $35/hour. When I personally do subcontracting work and bill clients directly, I usually charge $100-150/hour. You always charge more for contract or projects-based work.

Tech Career Placement?
By TimberJon on 2/15/2008 2:14:10 PM , Rating: 2
Is there a website anywhere that posts listings only for Tech-related jobs from companies?

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/15/2008 2:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
None of the lay-offs listed in the lead paragraphs, and probably many of the lay-offs for Dell are Tech or IT jobs. They are mostly infrastructure postions in tech-related companies. Many of those positions are unskilled labor, sales, HR, etc, and not core tech or IT positions. Many of those companies "IT" positions are not even tied to corporate products and services, but to IT support for corporate knowledge workers, as with most other companies.

How about a department of labor analysis when citing all of the "tech" lay-offs, instead of an incomplete smattering of what the author thinks are "tech" job lay-offs. Mick does it again. Nice grammar, too, as usual.

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