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IT Salaries Drop Nearly 10% in Q1

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IT workers suffered nearly a 10 percent drop in pay rates in the first quarter of this year, according to analysts at Yoh Company, a technology staffing firm based in Philadelphia.

The Yoh Index of Technology Wages measured an overall increase of 1 percent for technology workers in Q1 of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. Telecommunication workers and engineers raised the average that had been pulled down into the red by IT.

Yoh analysts estimate that IT workers suffered a 9.2 percent drop in wages in the first quarter. In contrast, pay rates in the telecom field grew by 4.1 percent; engineering grew by 3 percent and the scientific sectors grew by 2.5 percent.

”Due to dramatic global uncertainty in the first quarter, it’s no surprise that wages remained soft,” says Joseph J. Ucciferro, president & CEO of Yoh Company. ”As economic activity picks up, we believe wages will respond accordingly.”

The roller coaster ride of wage increases and decreases isn’t any more evident than in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Compared to 2002, pay rates in the region rose 1.7 percent in the first month of the year, dropped by 3.5 percent in February and rose by 1.5 percent in March.

The news about Q1 wages for 2003 follows earlier news of a dismal year in 2002 for IT workers.

A recent study by the Help Desk Institute showed that salaries dipped in all service and support-related jobs last year. Directors and senior support managers took the hardest hit, though, with a 7 percent decrease in pay — or an average drop from $82,484 to $76,805. All salaries, according to the institute’s researchers, dropped about 3 percent.

It seems any kind of salary safety comes with age — or at least years of experience.

A recent Dice survey showed that the over-40 workforce has grown and their salaries have remained steady during today’s economic slump. It’s not so rosy for the under-30 set. Their salaries have dropped by nearly 5 percent. And those under 24 have been the hardest hit, with their salaries declining nearly 9 percent.

But industry and labor analysts say they see improvement on the horizon.

”Although the economy still appears sluggish, we are seeing stabilization in the technology labor market,” says Scot Melland, president and CEO of Dice, an online recruiting company for technology professionals. ”The demand for a number of different technical specialties, including medical/pharmaceutical and defense/government positions, is improving.”

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