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IT hiring lackluster through 2003

Hiring in the information technology field will remain soft through 2003--despite any recovery waiting in the wings, according to a survey released by an IT trade group.

Hiring in the information technology field is expected to remain soft through 2003--despite any recovery waiting in the wings, according to a survey released Monday by an IT trade group.

Sixty-seven percent of hiring managers surveyed anticipate hiring demands to remain the same or decline during the next 12 months, according to the Information Technology Association of America. The ITAA surveyed 400 hiring managers from technology and nontechnology companies between March 27 and April 14.

The managers surveyed are expecting to hire a cumulative total of 493,000 IT workers over the next 12 months, compared with 1.1 million positions anticipated over the same period when the survey was conducted early last year.

Of the IT positions that companies plan to fill, a number will be for jobs overseas, according to the survey. An increasing number of companies, including Hewlett-Packard and IBM, are moving work offshore, where labor is cheaper.

"This new phenomenon is a factor of cost and the relative portability of IT products, and the increased usage of broadband connections worldwide," said Harris Miller, ITAA president, in a statement. The survey also found that companies in the Midwest and the West were more likely to move work offshore.

Twelve percent of hiring managers from IT companies say they have already moved a portion of their operations overseas, while another 15 percent say either that they will move jobs overseas in the next 12 months or that they have not yet made a final decision.

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents said they plan to hire software engineers and programmers for their offshore operations.

That was followed by 37 percent for network designers and 30 percent for Web developers.

Meanwhile, companies are ramping up their use of IT outsourcing overseas, in which they contract with outside companies to handle various parts of their business. Companies also see outsourcing as a way to reduce labor costs.

In related news, Cisco Systems Chief Executive John Chambers last week said companies are likely to buy new technology gear before hiring any new employees.