US technology jobs are being shipped to China, Ireland, India and the Philippines in a bid to save cash.
According to US news reports, the economic slowdown is speeding up the export of jobs as companies find that it is cheaper to hire workers in other countries and get them to telework.
A major engineering group has asked Congress to investigate whether the offshore trend, combined with US companies importing foreign engineers on H-1B visas, is partly to blame for high unemployment among US engineers.
Analyst Giga Information Group has announced that more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies now ship software work overseas, and that the Fortune 1000 companies are quickly following suit.
Forrester Research estimated that corporate budgets for offshore software outsourcing from the US will probably more than double by 2004.
Companies contracting for offshore technology services include Target, Visa International, Gap, Boeing, Citigroup, Nordstrom, Bank of America and, of course, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.
San Francisco brokerage Charles Schwab recently moved part of its IT division to a contractor in Bangalore.
Some experts have suggested that the growth in offshore tech services is the result of aggressive marketing by Indian firms.
Most of the overseas software work is concerned with basic maintenance and applications development, although there are moves towards software architecture, strategy and systems design.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange recently hired Cognizant Technology Solutions, which has a New Jersey headquarters and 10 development centres in India, to build a new software architecture for its computer networks to run the exchange in real time.
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