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IT worker confidence falls in August

Summer doldrums hit U.S. techies, thanks partly to concerns about job loss.

The summer doldrums hit U.S. techies in August, thanks partly to job-loss fears.

Information technology workers' confidence in the job market fell sharply from July, according to a study released Wednesday by staffing firm Hudson. Twenty-nine percent of IT workers claimed to be worried about losing their jobs, up from 26 percent last month.

Hudson also reported a drop in its job confidence measurement for U.S. workers overall, amid heightened job-security concerns and weaker job satisfaction.

The report added to mixed signals about the employment scene for U.S. programmers and other tech professionals. In July, the U.S. economy added thousands of jobs in both the hardware and services sectors of the technology arena, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. From the beginning of the year to June 1, job postings on tech-focused rose 26 percent to 69,957, with strong gains in eastern cities. And a study released earlier this year indicated that the U.S. tech industry may have turned a corner last year when it comes to employment woes.

What's more, second-quarter job cuts at tech companies fell 33 percent from the first quarter. On the other hand, the pace of tech-sector downsizing is ahead of the rate a year ago. Earlier this year Hewlett-Packard announced that it will lay off 14,500 workers, or about 10 percent of its staff. And the average number of unemployed workers in nine high-tech categories fell by 64,000 last year but remained close to 150,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

In addition, computer professionals face the threat of increased automation and the prospect of their jobs being shifted offshore.

According to Hudson, IT workers in August were less optimistic about personal finances. Just 47 percent rated them as excellent or good, down from 62 percent in July.

Hudson's employment index for IT workers fell 12.4 points from 109.9 in July to 97.5. The company's overall employment index slid 5.5 points to 98.2. The employment index, calculated from survey questions covering work and personal-finance issues, is designed to measure U.S. workers' confidence in the employment market. It examines sectors such as IT, health care and manufacturing and involves monthly surveys of about 9,000 U.S. workers. The national index's reading in December 2003 was 100.