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Survey: Techies stressed over job insecurity

Fear of job loss is far and away greatest contributor to IT job stress, according to job board's study.

In today's era of downsizing and offshoring, it seems that nothing stresses out technology workers more than job insecurity.

In a poll released Wednesday by job board Dice, 43 percent of IT worker respondents said a lack of job security is the greatest contributor to job stress. At 20 percent, the second most-cited stress factor was "always having to do more with less."

Fifteen percent pointed to few opportunities for growth and promotion, 13 percent cited "being underpaid," and 9 percent said "learning new skills."

The magnitude of anxiety over job security discovered in the poll is a bit surprising, given signs of a stronger job market for techies during the past year or so. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, the average number of unemployed workers in nine high-tech categories--including computer programmers, database administrators and computer hardware engineers--fell from 210,000 in 2003 to 146,000 in 2004. In addition, computer professionals of different stripes saw their wallets get fatter last year.

But there's also been evidence that techies have reason to fear for their jobs. Technology companies sent out 23 percent fewer pink slips in 2004 than they did in 2003, but they still laid off more than 175,000 workers last year, according to a report from employment services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

A recent wave of mergers in the industry, such as the Oracle-PeopleSoft deal, is resulting in thousands of job cuts. In addition, tech professionals face the possibility that their jobs could be sent to a lower-wage nation such as India or China. The automation of technology tasks is also a threat.

Despite these gloomy trends, Dice indicated that plenty of tech jobs are currently available. Dice said more than 64,000 jobs were posted on its site as of March 1.