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'More supply, lower price'

Study: Tech salaries easing southward


By Porter Anderson
CNN Career

(CNN) -- "I wouldn't sound the doomsday trumpet just yet, but these numbers aren't exactly celebration fare."

Don't kill the messenger. Cynthia Morgan, executive producer and vice president for content at, just collects the data and reports it. But when it comes to salaries in eight of the top technology employment areas in the United States, the message really isn't too upbeat -- at least for the folks who draw those salaries.

"Overall," Morgan says, "average national salaries paid in the eight most popular tech professions dropped 6 percent. It's one indication that we may be shifting from an employees' market to one where the employer has a lot more choice -- and control -- over technology hires."

On Monday, -- one of the country's leading Internet hubs for IT workers and employers -- will publish the summer 2001 results of its periodic Tech Salary Report. The figures this time correlate with the first half of this year, January through June.

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Morgan and her analysts, based in Minneapolis, have released to -- in advance of its official publication on Monday -- study data drawn from five experience levels represented by some 94,000 tech professions working in 36 U.S. markets.

"Nationally, the tech workers in this study were paid an average of $60,126, or around $4,000 less per year than was reported six months ago," Morgan says.

Families that work together ...

The eight employment areas or "families" studied are:

•   Tech-related management
•   Networking and telecommunications
•   Project management
•   Tech-related sales
•   Software development and programming
•   Systems administration
•   Systems support and help desk
•   Web and interactive content

"Employees in tech-related management roles saw the largest drop" in salaries, Morgan says, "14 percent. Project managers lost 13 percent.

"There are brighter spots -- other categories such as networking and telecommunications and the help desk lost ground only slightly. "

To see a snapshot of data from's nationwide study of tech salaries in the past six months, click here

More charts, please.

And technology salesmen actually reported 2-percent higher salaries now than six months ago. Other member surveys have told us that tech workers tend to avoid sales work -- it might be time to rethink that position."

The five experience levels defined and examined by Morgan and her techies staff are:

•   Entry (less than one year as a tech professional)
•   Junior (one to two years)
•   Emerging (three to five years)
•   Experienced (six to nine years)
•   Advanced (10 or more years as a tech professional)

The job markets

"In terms of which job markets pay the highest salaries," Morgan says, "the Top 3 spots remain unchanged since January: the San Francisco Bay (California) area, New York-New Jersey, and Boston (Massachusetts). The Bay area continues to lead in salaries paid for all eight job 'families,' although the Bay area salary dropped by about 2 percent.

"We see the New York-New Jersey market holding onto its position as the second-highest-paid in most job categories. It's maintaining its compensation levels better than any others in the Top 10 markets, losing only 1 percent.

"Boston, which ranks third in overall pay levels for these job families, is paying about 4 percent less than it did in January.

10 best -paying job markets for technologists
  % of average national salary
  1. Bay Area 123%
  2. New York/ New Jersey 117%
  3. Boston 111%
  4. DC/Baltimore 108%
  5. Los Angeles 108%
  6. San Diego 107%
  7. Chicago 107%
  8. Denver 105%
  9. Sacramento 103%
 10. Atlanta 103%
10 lowest -paying job markets for technologists
  % of average national salary
 36. Mountain 89%
 35. Mid South 90%
 34. Indianapolis 91%
 32. Kansas City 93%
 31. Cleveland 93%
 30. Salt Lake City 94%
 29. Las Vegas 94%
 28. Wisconsin 94%
 27. Upstate New York 94%
 26. Cincinnati 95%

"Once you move out of the top three, though," Morgan says, "things have really changed. Washington-Baltimore (Maryland), San Diego (California) and Sacramento (California) all move up the pay scale ladder. Chicago, Denver (Colorado) and Atlanta drop in the standings.

"Denver did the worst of any job market in the Top 10. Today's Denver tech salary is about 5 percent lower than in January.

"Washington has especially upped the rewards for its managers and networking-and-communications workers. Project managers and Web interactive-and-content workers do less well. Los Angeles, on the other hand, does especially well in both those categories.

"We're seeing San Diego reward its Web techs well and it ranks second in the nation in tech manager compensation. But the San Diego salaries paid to networking and systems support personnel were pretty dismal.

"Techies fared worst" in the past six months, says Morgan, "in the mountain states" -- Montana, Wyoming, Idaho. "There, they made just 89 percent of the national average in all professional 'families' included in this survey. Those in project management and sales did the worst there of any market. In fact, the average salary for a tech salesman in this region is about half what a Bay area salesman brings in."

The ongoing program of nationwide surveys last week featured the release of new data on certain layoff experiences encountered by tech professionals in the past 36 months. A second phase of that survey still is in the data-gathering stage. That part -- focusing on issues of relocation faced by many laid-off tech workers -- is open now for participation.

As Morgan pointed out in her interpretation of the first part of that survey's results, the most disturbing finding is that 65 percent of those laid off six months to a year ago still haven't found work. And this new salary-slide data may correlate fairly logically with that survey's conclusions.

"There could be many reasons that average salaries are lower now than they were six months ago," she says. "Bonuses and commissions may be lower and in rare cases workers may be taking pay cuts.

"But I think the primary reason," Morgan says, "is just good old-fashioned supply and demand. Nationally, demand for tech workers is still increasing. But the number of workers available to fill that demand is rising much faster.

"More supply, lower price."



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