US IT pay to rise by 15% by 2007

An improving economy in the US and heightened demand for US technology workers with certain skills will help drive 10%-15% salary...

An improving economy in the US and heightened demand for US technology workers with certain skills will help drive 10%-15% salary increases for seasoned technologists through 2007, according to a study by Meta Group this month.

The predictions seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom following at least three years of a weak IT job market, a rise in organisations' use of lower-cost offshore labour and marginal pay increases for full-time domestic IT workers. 

Still, recruiters say there's plenty of evidence to support the predictions for salary gains, including a relatively low unemployment rate for US high-tech workers and a shortage of new workers entering the market.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations at the end of September was 3.3%. 

Maria Schafer, author of the Meta Group report, said seasoned IT professionals with coveted database, networking, security, architecture and project management skills are already commanding 10%-12% annual pay increases. The report is based on a survey of 650 companies that was completed in late May. 

"I hear from people all the time who say, 'I don't know how you can be saying this - I've been looking for a job for 19 months,' and I empathise with those people," Schafer said. But as the economy improves and companies invest more in IT, demand for senior specialists will rise, she said. 

Analysts and recruiters said the number of domestic IT jobs being sent overseas is relatively small. And once the stock market improves and retirement plans start growing again, workers in their late 50s who had to postpone retirement over the past few years will begin leaving the market in droves.

Thomas Hoffman writes for IDG News Service

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