The unemployment rate among US IT workers reached an all-time high of five per cent for the months of September and October, compared with figures of 1.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively a year ago.
Although the IT workforce came close to record levels of 2.94 million workers, roughly 147,000 were out of work and looking for jobs, according to US Bureau of Labour statistics.
For the first time since the Bureau began tracking IT unemployment in 1963, the 2001 September IT rate of five per cent exceeded the overall jobless rate by 0.3 percentage points.
IT employment comprises three categories: computer programmers; computer systems analysts and scientists; and computer operators.
Even though one in every 50 US workers last month was employed in IT, the IT workforce of 2.94 million represents only two per cent of the country's overall labour force of 142.3 million people in October.
Many economists expect the unemployment rate, which shot up in October to 5.4 per cent, the highest level in nearly five years, will rise at least another percentage point during the next year as companies lay off workers to cope with the slowing economy.
The increase reflects the events of 11 September on the already weak US economy. "These numbers show more fully the impact of the attacks on our country," said Labour Secretary Elaine Chao. "We had been anticipating these numbers."
The US Labour Department reported that employers eliminated 415,000 jobs, the biggest number since 460,000 in May 1980, compared with 213,000 in September. California reported the biggest decline in claims, by 4473.
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