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News Release

Contact: Chris McManes
Senior Public Relations Coordinator
Phone: + 1 202 785 0017, ext. 8356

U.S. High-Tech Unemployment Shrinks
Since H-1B Cap Lowered to 65,000

WASHINGTON (19 November 2004)  The number of unemployed U.S. high-tech professionals dropped sharply from the first quarter of 2004 to the third quarter. The decline mirrors the reinstatement of the H-1B visa cap to its historical level of 65,000 in Fiscal Year 2004 from 195,000 in FY 03.

"Although a number of factors are affecting high-tech employment, including an improving economy and the migration of engineers out of the technical workforce, statistics indicate that U.S. professionals have benefited from a reduction in H-1B visas," IEEE-USA President John Steadman said. "Because U.S. industry has been more restricted in its ability to bring overseas guest workers into the country, it has had to hire more U.S. citizens to fill open positions. This is good news for U.S. technical professionals."

The number of unemployed high-tech workers has fallen by a total of 92,000 in nine major high-tech job classifications tracked by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the third quarter of 2004 vs. the first quarter.

Job Classification 1st Quarter 3rd Quarter Change
  Computer Programmers 62,000 25,000 -37,000
  Computer Scientists and System Analysts 48,000 17,000 -31,000
  Network Systems & Data Com. Analysts 23,000 11,000 -12,000
  Electrical and Electronics Engineers 16,000 7,000 -9,000
  Computer Hardware Engineers 4,000 1,000 -3,000
  Network & Computer Systems Administrators 7,000 5,000 -2,000
  Computer Software Engineers 29,000 29,000 0
  Database Administrators 3,000 3,000 0
  Computer Support Specialists 16,000 18,000 +2,000
Total 208,000 116,000 -92,000

Despite these gains, 116,000 people remained out of work in those nine career areas in the third quarter. U.S. industry and its lobbyists have been clamoring recently to grant an immediate H-1B cap exemption of 20,000 for foreign-born students who've earned advanced degrees in the United States.

"Plenty of U.S. citizens are still available for U.S. companies to hire," IEEE-USA's Steadman said. "So, as pleased as we are to see more U.S. technical professionals back to work, we still have thousands on the unemployment rolls. Until we can put more of them back to work, there's really no reason to add another exemption to the H-1B cap."

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the IEEE. It was created in 1973 to advance the public good and promote the careers and public-policy interests of the more than 225,000 technology professionals who are U.S. members of the IEEE. The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society. For more information, go to

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