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News Release

Unemployment Rate for Engineering and Computer Occupations Jumps Significantly in First Quarter

WASHINGTON (5 April 2009) -- The unemployment rate for U.S. engineers and those working in computer occupations increased to levels beyond that for all professional workers, according to data released Friday by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“Engineers create jobs, so these data are very discouraging,” IEEE-USA President Gordon Day said. “Engineers strengthen companies and start new ones, leveraging the economy upwards.The fundamental need is for capital to support engineering activity. That’s why the government’s investments in technology and its efforts to restore the banking system are so important.”

The unemployment rate for engineers jumped from 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009. For those working in computer occupations, the rate went from 3.3 percent to 5.4 percent. By comparison, the first-quarter rate for all professional workers increased from 3 percent to 3.7 percent.

Electrical and electronics engineers saw their rate of joblessness rise from 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter to 4.1 percent in the first quarter. Aerospace engineers’ unemployment went from 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent, and mechanical engineers rose from 2.1 percent to 4.2 percent.

In computer occupations during the same time period, the jobless rate for computer software engineers went from 1.9 percent to 4.2 percent. For computer scientists and systems analysts, it increased from 3 percent to 5.7 percent.

High-tech managers also experienced unemployment increases. For computer and information systems managers, the rate rose from 2.7 percent to 4 percent. The rate for engineering managers went from 1 percent to 1.8 percent.

“IEEE-USA is concerned how rapidly engineering and computer-related unemployment is trending upwards,” said Day. “In 2007 the overall engineering unemployment rate was only 1.2 percent.”

IEEE members can find career enhancement resources at Help for unemployed and at-risk members is available at

IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society with 375,000 members in 160 countries. See

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