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Study: Tech worker confidence drops in May

Staffing firm's employee confidence index drops to a low point amid less-rosy attitudes about personal finances and worries about job loss.

May was a gloomy month for tech workers, according to a report released Wednesday by staffing firm Hudson.

Hudson's monthly gauge of information technology workers' confidence in the job market dropped 18 percent, to the lowest reading since the company first measured it in March last year.

Hudson said the decline was due to a "significant decrease in optimism about personal finances and hiring intentions, as well as increased concerns about job loss."


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Nearly 25 percent of IT workers surveyed in May said that over the course of the next few months, their companies will be laying off workers, according to Hudson. That compares with 18 percent in April.

Additionally, 27.7 percent of IT workers surveyed in May said their companies will be hiring more workers, compared with 38.6 percent who said so in April.

Hudson's overall national employment index also slid in May, though not as drastically as that for IT workers, to the lowest level in its year-and-a-half history.

The report adds to mixed signals about the job market for tech professionals, who weathered hundreds of thousands of job cuts in the wake of the dot-com bust. A variety of sectors in the technology industry added jobs in April, and a recent report indicated that the U.S. tech industry may have turned a corner last year when it comes to employment woes. In addition, technology professionals have reason to be cautiously optimistic about jobs at start-up companies.

On the other hand, computer pros face the threat of increased automation and the prospect of their jobs being shifted offshore. 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. And in the first three months of this year, technology companies slashed nearly 60,000 U.S. jobs--twice the number trimmed in the same period last year.

Hudson said its employment index for IT industry workers dropped 21 points from April to 93.2 in May, while the national index slid 2.5 points from 102.4 to 99.9.

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 is based on surveys of about 9,000 U.S. workers. The national index's reading in December 2003 was 100.