SAN FRANCISCOThe unemployment rate for engineering and computer occupations in the U.S. is increasing more rapidly than for professional occupations in general, according to an analysis of U.S. Labor Deptartment data provided by IEEE.
The jobless rate for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers rose to 4.1 percent in the first quarter from 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to IEEE's analysis, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data released April 3.
The unemployment rate for all engineers jumped from 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009, IEEE said. For all computer occupations, the rate went from 3.3 percent to 5.4 percent, the organization said.
In comparison, the quarter-to-quarter rate for all professional workers increased from 3 percent to 3.7 percent, according to IEEE.
The rise in unemployment among U.S. engineers comes at a time when the volume of the debate on the offshoring of jobs has risen due to the economic downturn.
Hamstrung by the downturn, scores of electronics and related companies have shed tens of thousands of workers over the past several months.
Last week, trade group TechAmerica reported that the number of U.S. high-tech jobs increased in 2008 despite the layoffs that dominated the headlines during the final two months of the year.
"Engineers create jobs, so these data are very discouraging," IEEE-USA President Gordon Day said through a statement. Day said the U.S. government's investments in technology and efforts to restore the banking system are important.