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Tech workers seeing smaller raises

After years of double-digit increases, some IT professionals' salaries are not even keeping up with inflation, new research says.

Gone are the days of double-digit raises for technology workers. Nowadays, some tech wages aren't even keeping up with inflation.

Salary increases for information-technology professionals in several tech hubs during the second quarter averaged less than 1 percent, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Matrix Resources, an Atlanta-based staffing company for permanent and temporary tech workers, determined that wages increased a scant 0.85 percent for tech workers in Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. The research did not include tech workers in super concentrated tech hubs such as California's Silicon Valley, Seattle or Boston, where wages tend to surpass those of their colleagues in other parts of the country.

Researchers said the news was grim, at least for workers. The 0.85 percent boost is even slower than the 1 percent increase tech workers received in the first quarter. It adjusts to an annual salary growth rate of 3.4 percent.

By contrast, consumer prices rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.7 percent in the second quarter and a 4 percent rate in the first three months of 2001, according to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means that tech workers who receive the average salary boost in the geographic districts measured in the survey are not keeping up with increases in the cost of living.

But the survey may be good news for employers, who bemoaned that the salaries of tech workers in the late 1990s got out of control. Many complained that they had to offer workers huge bonuses and raises in order to buy their loyalty, and others claimed that the high salaries and numerous job offers led tech workers to become downright rude.

Now the tide may be turning back to employers, said Shannon Brandon, president of field operations for Matrix.

"IT hiring managers have regained control of salaries," Brandon said. "That's partly due to the numerous layoffs as well as the slowed economy. The bigger challenge facing hiring managers today is to effectively screen through resumes to uncover the most qualified workers, especially those with specific experience or some specialized skill sets."

The biggest winners in the four geographic markets measured were quality assurance managers, telecom managers and quality assurance analysts. They saw the highest pay increases during the second quarter--though even their salary boosts were moderate.

Salaries for quality assurance managers increased by 1.8 percent, for an average of $90,059. Salaries for telecom managers increased by 1.7 percent, for an average of $81,615. Salaries for quality assurance analysts increased 1.5 percent, for an average salary of $66,494.