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If Tech Is So Important, Why Are IT Wages Flat?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

The Almighty Buck 660

dcblogs writes "Despite the fact that technology plays an increasingly important role in the economy, IT wages remain persistently flat. This may be tech's inconvenient truth. In 2000, the average hourly wage was $37.27 in computer and math occupations for workers with at least a bachelor's degree. In 2011, it was $39.24, adjusted for inflation, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. That translates to an average wage increase of less than a half percent a year. In real terms, IT wages overall have gone up by $1.97 an hour in just over 10 years, according to the EPI. Data from professional staffing firm Yoh shows wages in decline. In its latest measure for week 12 of 2012, the hourly wages were $31.45 and in 2010, for the same week, at $31.78. The worker who earned $31.78 in 2010 would need to make $33.71 today to stay even with inflation. Wages vary by skill and this data is broad. The unemployment rate for tech has been in the 3-4% range, but EPI says full employment has been historically around 2%."

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660 comments

tech is a fairly broad category (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42196729)

If you're a competent programmer and live in the SF Bay Area, wages are definitely not flat, to the point of absurdity. There are kids just coming out of college making $80k or more as a starting salary, and quickly rising up to $120k+ within only a few years of experience.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (4, Insightful)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year ago | (#42196789)

In my area (not US) if your skills have flattened so has your salary. If you grow and expand your abilties, there is plenty of room for growth.

BTW 80k to start in SF seems pretty horrible considering the cost of living there I dont find it surprising to command 6 figures after proving oneself.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196909)

Welcome to California. The salary/cost of living ratio does not translate directly from other areas. Most people take a hit in standard of living to be there.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (1)

BlueRaja (1397333) | about a year ago | (#42196967)

spoken like someone who has clearly never lived anywhere else...

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197011)

I've lived in three different states. California's cost of living is just plain irrational for the average incomes there.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Narcocide (102829) | about a year ago | (#42197159)

No its not completely irrational; the income+cost of parking differential does generally serve to keep the riffraff out of the nicer areas of town.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197231)

Ha. And to think my California boss once mocked us east coasters for hating diversity.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197227)

My little sister went from a house with a yard in Texas to a quarter of a loft in San Francisco.

She says she'd do it again. Something about having actual culture that isn't about the size of your belt buckle.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Microlith (54737) | about a year ago | (#42196833)

But if you're going to live in the Bay Area for several years, you'd better be earning 80K out of the gate and move up, just because the cost of living is so high. I started out at 60k and am up a lot higher up in the Sacramento region.

That said, I think the topic here is much more applicable: all wages are flat or declining, and it's been happening for the past 30 years as most of the gains in productivity have been trapped by the richest in the country.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42197043)

I hear this a lot, but as someone who lived a good life for a few years in the Bay Area on a grad-student stipend, I don't really believe it, at least if you don't have kids. I don't understand how single people could make $80k and feel they can't handle the cost of living, unless it's due to social factors (all their friends make more, so they're spending a shit-ton of money on bars, restaurants, and other entertainment).

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197253)

You should probably consider the cost of buying a home or paying rent in your calculations.

At the peak of the downturn I spent ~$800k on a condo on the peninsula (which has since gone up in value. woo.) In many other areas of the country this would buy you a mansion in the (proverbial) hills. I have family in the midwest with a ~4000 square foot home for ~$300-400k on a lake. And this isn't out in the country. Firmly in suburbia.

Yes you can buy homes in parts of the bay area for less than that (and commute 50 miles in bumper to bumper traffic each way...), but I could also go buy a
modest home in the midwest for $80-$100k instead of comparing it to a mansion.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197321)

I hear this a lot, but as someone who lived a good life for a few years in the Bay Area on a grad-student stipend, I don't really believe it, at least if you don't have kids. I don't understand how single people could make $80k and feel they can't handle the cost of living, unless it's due to social factors (all their friends make more, so they're spending a shit-ton of money on bars, restaurants, and other entertainment).

Most people get married and have kids at some point. Say you want a house...

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196893)

True, but you have to account for cost of living, which is much higher in SF compared to other places.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (2)

TheViffer (128272) | about a year ago | (#42196973)

Absurdity is better defined working for a SF Bay Area company but living in in the midwest .. just saying :-)

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (2)

emt377 (610337) | about a year ago | (#42197007)

If you're a competent programmer and live in the SF Bay Area, wages are definitely not flat, to the point of absurdity. There are kids just coming out of college making $80k or more as a starting salary, and quickly rising up to $120k+ within only a few years of experience.

If you're a competent programmer in the Bay Area you work in product development, not IT.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197097)

80k as a starting salary in SF is pretty low for a capable developer from a decent school right out of college. Boston has lower cost of living compared to SF and entry level developers wouldn't make much less than that.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#42197147)

Also, "IT" is not necessarily "tech". IT is about services, keeping the computers running but they don't actually build or design the computers, and very rarely they help with web sites (the low tech side of technology).

Wages are flat becuase first of IT workers are a dime a dozen. Everyone who has a two dollar certificate tries to get into IT. IT workers are interchangeable cogs used for grunt labor, so the wages are the lowest they can be and get away with it. However even if you step up from IT into actual technology and engineering, wages are flat (but high) in the Bay Area because companies need to be competitive, they can't afford to keep raising salaries just because of cost of living because they have to compete with companies elsewhere in the US. So what happens instead is that there's a relatively higher entry level salary that flattens out sooner than less expensive areas.

Given that most of the "silicon" has left the area to be replaced by media and content, and too many upstarts are now claiming to be part of the "valley", I think the remaining high tech may move on eventually. Really the only advantage left is if you have a home here you don't have to relocate if you lose your job though you may have to lower your standards.

Re:tech is a fairly broad category (0)

aoism (996912) | about a year ago | (#42197229)

If you make $80k in tech in SF, you better be living with 5 other people and eating ramen noodles. I'm at $125 and I feel it is pretty low. I get the luxury of living by myself in a rent controlled $1500/mo 1.5 bedroom .. that is pretty much the only splurge I have. Everything else goes to pay off loans, parking tickets, and the cost of living in the city. I know guys here that are Sr. Software Engineers making $180k. The average for in my group of friends for Senior Rails or Java dudes is around $140k.

Because youre a bunch of cowards (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196731)

too afraid to ask for the raise, or to leave when they tell you no

Re:Because youre a bunch of cowards (1)

Zeromous (668365) | about a year ago | (#42196835)

In many cases I agree with this....or at least for failing to move out of their 'comfort zone'. I see lots of people who have done the same job (never mind at the same place for almost 15 years). I'm not calling these people cowards, as there's something to be said for comfort... but risk = reward.

Re:Because youre a bunch of cowards (1)

Chrono11901 (901948) | about a year ago | (#42197141)

Going to have to second this... I work out of NYC and here its hard to find developers competent in even the most basic OOP fundamentals. Companies are hurting for people... using that to your advantage will make a huge difference in your salary.

The ironic thing i have noticed... the people who try to lowball you the most are the ones that get pissed when you politely reject their offer.

Re:Because youre a bunch of cowards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197249)

>> its hard to find developers competent in even the most basic OOP fundamentals

Oops I'm fluent in, but I ain't gonna brag about it.

Re:Because youre a bunch of cowards (4, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | about a year ago | (#42197181)

Not I, sir. I patiently wait for a raise, then leave when its apparent that I would have to ask to get it.

Relative to other incomes... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196733)

flat is rising.

Re:Relative to other incomes... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197105)

Adding to that, they are comparing wages between 2000 and 2011. One is the peak of the dot-com boom, the other is now. If they compared between 2001 and 2011 or 2002 and 2012, they probably will have a different picture.

Their comparison is like comparing Banker wages between 2007 and 2011 and claiming that bankers are underpaid on a 5 year basis. In the case of bankers, they are paid more than twice average national wage in both 2007 and 2011, but compared to a boom they are not doing as well now.

Work Force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196747)

Does anyone have numbers on demand vs IT workforce size over the last couple decades?

Recession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196769)

Because the economy sucks. Real wages are down, and it's not going to get better any time soon.

Re:Recession (2)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#42197207)

It is not the current economic problems. Real wages in Canada and the US have not increased since the early 1980s, and in some cases have dropped. We are still paying the price for the deeply flawed economic policies of Reagan and Mulroney.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196801)

I thought IT wages where higher than most professions to begin with and now have adjusted (downward) to reflect its more realistic value. Also factor in capitalism trying to cut work costs to increase profits.

Re:Why? (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about a year ago | (#42197255)

There is some truth to that. IT jobs used to pay significantly more than other jobs that required similar levels of training and skill. Part of what we are seeing now is IT wages coming into line with wages in other industries.

Because (5, Insightful)

John Napkintosh (140126) | about a year ago | (#42196809)

Because IT stuff is easy. I mean, you just type some things and click a few buttons, right? That's not hard. Why do you need 100k a year to do that?

If cleaning toilets is so important... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196811)

... why do they earn so little? Nobody wants dirty toilets.

Re:If cleaning toilets is so important... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197065)

I do feel like the keyboard janitor sometimes.

Re:If cleaning toilets is so important... (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42197111)

People might confuse you for some sort of communist if you keep talking like that...

No really, part of the issue here is that if one underpaid worker tries to demand better compensation, they'll just be replaced with someone else who doesn't mind the low compensation. People are trained from an early age to believe that janitorial work deserves low pay, and so if they are looking for a job cleaning toilets they generally expect low pay.

Re:If cleaning toilets is so important... (2)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year ago | (#42197187)

Also doesn't require a degree or certifications or in most cases the ability to even speak english.

Re:If cleaning toilets is so important... (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42197291)

Exactly. Wages have to due with such things as barriers to entry, need and ability to supervise, as well as skill set. Importance of job seldom has anything to do with it. For example, executive officers are not necessarily paid well because they have important jobs, but because they they are dishonest, cannot be effectively supervised, and so they are paid high amounts to not screw the firm.

Cleaning staff, however, can be easily supervised, intimidated, and if they do not do a good job the repercussions are limited. There is also a low barrier to such a job.

What I think has happened, particularly in the past 10 years, is that software used to track IT resources has become very sophisticated. It has made it possible for the real software development to be executed by the average person. It has also allowed automated supervision IT staff. More business rules are encoded in the management packages.. In the 80's and 90's one had to have trust that the person who was working IT. Now the tools are there to not only check on the developer daily, but automated difficult tasks.

So just like any other industry, automation has made highly skilled workers redundant. We no longer need a tailor to make our clothes. Anybody off the street can cook your food. Modern check out registers means that we no longer need have trust in our cashiers. And since so much IT is simply clicking icons and plugging things into other things, with measures taken to insure they cannot be plugged in wrong, there is really no reason a semi-literate person off the street can't be successful with minimal training.

Because income growth is shifting. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196839)

Income growth has been shifting since the late 1990s from middle class to upper-middle and wealthy class.

In fact in many sectors, incomes have been shrinking for those in lower management and below. Meanwhile, incomes of upper management (i.e. CEOs, University administrative staff) - basically people who really don't work or anything productive - have been sky rocketing.

IT is very important... but as a CEO I don't want to pay a lot for it.

Re:Because income growth is shifting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197071)

University administrative board staff

I fixed that for you !

Re:Because income growth is shifting. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197099)

It's been going on for much longer than that [thinkprogress.org]. Wages as a percent of GDP are at record lows while corporate profits are at record highs, and we all know who gets ~all of those profits.

BTW, unless you're a university President, Dean, Provost, etc. you're paid next to nothing and many of those staff are mission critical. I can't imagine any university functioning for very long without the staff that help researchers through the grant application process for example.

Because of the old adage... (5, Insightful)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#42196847)

Engineers are the dumbest smart people in the world.

Re:Because of the old adage... (1)

Alarash (746254) | about a year ago | (#42197219)

I always figured that an engineer is somebody who intrinsically understand what he does, and how it's done, all the inner workings of a technology. I don't think this applies to most IT departments.

Re:Because of the old adage... (2)

Narcocide (102829) | about a year ago | (#42197295)

Well, there are a lot of hidden truths to this statement, but the biggest one is that intelligent people as a whole *tend* not to exhibit the same sort of ruthless pack mentality that the less-than-genius but more socially-competent crowd does. This makes it hard to get ahead in business after years of academia where (unlike school) your promotion is not purely performance-based but *usually* almost implicitly popularity-based, instead. Geeks are good at doing the job well and knowing that they did. They are not good at making everyone else around them who couldn't do it as easily feel good about it after the fact.

And what about other sectors? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#42196863)

How does this compare with other employment sectors? Adjusted for inflation, real median household income in the United States went down between 1990 and 2010 [proximityone.com].

Re:And what about other sectors? (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#42196935)

I'm calling it the Bush / Obama economy And I don't see any real improvement coming either. I haven't seen a COLA in years, but on the other hand, I'm grateful I have a job when so many people don't.

Because Tech is global... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196865)

and you guys in US (and EU) are way overpaid in the global scale.

Re:Because Tech is global... (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42197089)

And scalable.

Telcoms allow a worldwide workforce.
Technology has been allowing to leverage up IT staff so you need fewer of them.

Two trends that offer feedback on themselves.

Foreign pressure (4, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#42196869)

Get rid of the guest workers and offshore pressure, then wages can rise.

Re:Foreign pressure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197013)

So ignorant. The arrogant redneck is now a pale-faced arrogant IT nerd. The wealth and riches are are funneled to less than 1% of the US population You are being scammed. Big time.

The internet allows you to read news and watch media from abroad. Educate yourself. The BBC is a good starting point.

Cry me a river. (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#42196875)

The median household income in the US is $52,000 USA Quick Facts [census.gov]

Re:Cry me a river. (1)

roboticon (2715841) | about a year ago | (#42196919)

The question is about change in wages, not absolute wages. If IT wages started higher but have remained flat, why is that?

Re:Cry me a river. (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42196995)

Yeah but the national median level of education, training, and experience is only slightly above a zoo monkey, so only getting paid a tiny bit more for knowing a heck of a lot more seems a bit out of proportion.

Re:Cry me a river. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197067)

He said household wages.

A tech household with both adults working could easily be getting 3x the average.

Re:Cry me a river. (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42197251)

both adults working

The steadily increasing population and steadily decreasing population workforce participation rate means that'll take care of itself soon enough. To say nothing of the 50% divorce rate, etc.

Re:Cry me a river. (1)

hamster_nz (656572) | about a year ago | (#42197135)

It isn't how much you know, it is how much value you add. Improvements in IT are rarely creating massive improvements in productivity.

The majority of productivity gains in areas such as manufacturing have already been made a decade or so ago, before we reached this age of oversupply of CPU, RAM and disk.

Re:Cry me a river. (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42197225)

That seems very optimistic compared to my experience. The more the IT screws are tightened down and centrally controlled, the more the computer turns into a dumb machine like a typewriter with manual repetitive data entry and hand calculation and using the wrong tool for the job.

I've made a pretty good living doing what amounts to systems analysis and integration, and workflow automation. Its really awful out there, but with a good eye its easy to make a living making it better.

Quit complaining- staying even is good these days (2, Insightful)

Roblimo (357) | about a year ago | (#42196917)

Most middle or working class occupations are suffering from *declining* pay. Holding steady is good these days. And think of all the people who were making $50K or $75K a few years ago and are now working for $10/hour or less.

Here, I'll help:

1... 2.... 3... 4... 5... 6...

Count your blessings! :)

Commodity IT workers (1)

Stonefish (210962) | about a year ago | (#42196939)

Management is attempting to commoditise the IT workform however this relates to a fundamental misunderstanding of what IT is meant to do. IT is meant to either replace or augment people. Paying peanuts to commoditise your workforce and using BA to provide the insight is an attempt to apply Taylors principles to this problem. However it doesn't work in practice. Business needs to employ evolutionary models of software and system design and employ capable practictioners.
Rule 1 If you can innovate
Rule 2 If you can copy the most successful innovators.
Rule 3 Don't pay for software unless you absolutely have to.

Look at what google, facebook etc are doing and contrast this to your environment. If you're a MS shop, your doing it wrong because the software is not free. You're paying an overhead that you don't have to and licencing constrains your growth.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196953)

Because IT is the new mcjob.

Every kid has a computer degree now. And you are completely replaceable by one. (or so HR says)

Smart companies know better... but how many of THOSE are there... lol

Lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196963)

Man I wish I made that much. I make $10.71 hr doing It help desk.

Re:Lucky (1)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about a year ago | (#42197153)

You could. Get some skills, maybe a few certifications. Apply for every possible job that looks remotely interesting.

It's your career- take charge of it. Nobody else will.

Many reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196981)

Much more workers, a financial crisis, and the fact that less of the profits reaches the workforce.

Work for smaller firms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42196985)

Some large companies are paying very low contracting rates. I've seen rates as low as $37/hr presented to me for jobs that require 10-15 yrs experience.
Never take such a low paying rate. You hurt yourself, you hurt the industry. Smaller firms are offering $60-$70/hr contracting rates for the same types of positions and 100-140K for perm salaries. Those jobs are out there, I just secured another one after a 4 year contract and a bit of a break.

Put a price on yourself. Be excellent.

Role in the economy not so important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197015)

Competition brings prices down. It's not just the salary that's stagnant, the price your company charges it's clients for your work is stagnant too. I personally haven't seen a raise since 2009.

Project are mainly given to the cheapest company who can deliver, quality rarely plays a role. Company that delivers faster/better quality ends up competing with a similar company delivering just as fast and with same quality, and at that tier, price has been stagnant for quite a while.

Microsoft eats it all ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197019)

Whatever IT budgets departments have, they go to never ending upgrades and M$ license increases.
Send Thank You note to Redmond.

Competitive economy. (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#42197021)

My company prides itself on being "competitive" - which I take to mean they don't pay any more than they have to. The economy is in the tank, so they pay less (or lower raises) - you know, to be "competitive". After all, where else are employees going to go in this job market?

Capitalism (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42197023)

Because of capitalism. Those who do the real important work never get what they are actually worth, as it would cut into the profits made by executives and investors. The labor market cannot ensure that people get paid what they're worth--by which I mean the value they produce--because there's almost always someone willing to do it for less. We under cut each other fighting for scraps, and those at the top keep the bulk of what we produce. This is how capitalism works.

Re:Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197215)

Just wondering, why not become an executive and investor... Do you hav 401k? Aren't you therefore an investor? And there is no market for executives? Come on...

Maybe people are wising up. (3, Insightful)

hamster_nz (656572) | about a year ago | (#42197029)

I am surprised that it has take the world so long to realise that IT salaries are overpriced. Because the hardware used to be so rare and expensive the people who used it and looked after it were also rare and expensive.Now that the hardware is cheap as chips, and the labor market is approaching truly global is it a big surprise that salaries are flat?

If a bad patch breaks my two year old $500 company laptop or a $200 tablet I am not going to pay somebody to fix it. I replace it and move my data over. There was a time when PCs cost thousands, and servers cost tens of thousands. People won't pay people $100/hr to fix a $200 devices.

I also imagine that it is a heck of a lot cheaper to engage off-shore programmers than using local resources (you can't do that for a truck driver...) - supply and demand in a free market in action.

you're working on the wrong hardware (3, Insightful)

Chirs (87576) | about a year ago | (#42197075)

NEBS-compliant enterprise- or telco-grade systems still cost tens of thousands of dollars and people definitely pay people good money to work on them.

The company I work for is on-shoring work after figuring out that off-shoring it dropped the quality substantially.

Re:you're working on the wrong hardware (1)

hamster_nz (656572) | about a year ago | (#42197281)

I agree - but the amount of high-end hardware (and the need for it) is not expanding at the same rate as the pool of IT workers...

Long gone are the days when a departmental server would cost more than the average salary.

In the late 1990s I installed a large data warehouse for the ministry responsible for social security. It was $2M list - 4 CPUs, 12GB RAM, 2TB disk, and was used by a team of data analysts. I now have that hardware on my desktop (but without the IOPs of 2TB of 72GB spindles of course!).

Things get cheaper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197047)

Information Technology is more important *because* it's cheaper. If IT salaries kept going up, it would be *less* important.

When automobiles were new and wonderful, every rich guy had a well-paid mechanic. Competent mechanics are hardly starving today, but I doubt the wage rate is going up precipitously. And IT guys are hardly starving either. In both cases, they reap the penalties of success: the IT and automobiles get better -- easier to use, require less maintenance -- aka, cheaper. Welcome to the future. If this process wasn't an ongoing one for the human race, we'd get up in the morning and hunt for grubs.

Rich Get Richer (4, Informative)

Mr_Blank (172031) | about a year ago | (#42197051)

IT is not being picked on, in particular.
    Only the rich are getting richer [businessinsider.com].

Click that link to see
1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high.
2) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low.

Do you guys really make that much? (-1, Flamebait)

0111 1110 (518466) | about a year ago | (#42197053)

$40/hour for writing code? Seriously? Jesus. I'd do real work for that much. Unpleasant shit work. Cleaning monkey cages. Cleaning the inside of nuclear reactors. Now I think I understand why prices in the US are so absurdly high. You guys can afford to pay them. I make $10-$12/hour and that's when I'm lucky. My friend only makes $7.xx/hour.

I would *definitely* write code for $10/hour. Maybe even $8. I wouldn't need $40. Writing code is easy and frankly kind of fun. I do it for free all the time and greatly enjoy it. It isn't 'rocket science'. It's mostly basic logic. Especially nowadays when you aren't even expected to know assembly language or heavily optimize anything. Just write clear, well organized, easy to understand code and to hell with the number of cycles it takes to execute. Of course plumbers don't deserve to make $125/hour and electricians don't deserve to make $75/hour either but they do. At least in states with licensing requirements.

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197079)

If you'd clean monkey cages for $40 an hour, why aren't you working as a plumber for $120 an hour?

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197117)

Writing code is the easy part, and worth $10/hr.

Repeatedly delivering,maintaining, and improving functioning, productive applications/tools/utilities to users and customers is the hard part, and worth the extra $30 or more.

ie the business of tech is a lot more difficult than script kiddie weekend foo in your jammies.

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197165)

There is a difference between "writing code" and software engineering. If you want half ass hackish code, you can pay someone $10 an hour to do it. I did that before college for several small businesses. However, the skills have I have now dwarf what I could do then. I'm worth what I make. Also remember that medium include for the US includes the middle of no where like alabama as well as silicon valley, new york and other high cost of living areas. For someone in michigan to move to california, they'd have to almost double the salary to break even. When you see numbers, you have to consider WHERE too.

I've had to change employers to get raises the last few years. I'd rather stay somewhere a long time, but they make it so difficult.

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197171)

Writing code is easy and frankly kind of fun.

Writing code in an enterprise environment is usually difficult and frankly kind of a pain.

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (1)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | about a year ago | (#42197309)

Plumbers and sparkies require licensing because when you don't you have live pipes and only a single colour of wiring for active, neutral and ground.

Re:Do you guys really make that much? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197313)

$40/hour for writing code? Seriously? Jesus. I'd do real work for that much. Unpleasant shit work. Cleaning monkey cages. Cleaning the inside of nuclear reactors. Now I think I understand why prices in the US are so absurdly high. You guys can afford to pay them. I make $10-$12/hour and that's when I'm lucky. My friend only makes $7.xx/hour.

Then you and your friend either suck, or live in a shithole. It's really that simple.

I would *definitely* write code for $10/hour. Maybe even $8. I wouldn't need $40. Writing code is easy and frankly kind of fun. I do it for free all the time and greatly enjoy it

Where in the hell do you live? Arkansas?

Writing code is easy and frankly kind of fun. I do it for free all the time and greatly enjoy it.

Which doesn't mean you're any good at it.

It isn't 'rocket science'. It's mostly basic logic. Especially nowadays when you aren't even expected to know assembly language or heavily optimize anything. Just write clear, well organized, easy to understand code and to hell with the number of cycles it takes to execute.

Blah blah blah. Spoken like somebody who hasn't done jack shit in the real world. My projects range from 4 to 12 million lines of high level code. I'll give you complex. Yeah, I was writing my own assemblers and tools (and making good use of them too) back in the day.. but anybody who works with current production level code in anything but the most trivial system knows what a pain in the ass so-called "high level" code can be. And yea, there are times when you can't just throw more hardware at it.

Of course plumbers don't deserve to make $125/hour and electricians don't deserve to make $75/hour either but they do. At least in states with licensing requirements.

Care to tell me why they shouldn't? I think it's just that you're such an inbred, lazy, arrogant little fuck that you couldn't do their jobs if your life depended on it. I'll bet you're fat... that you masturbate quite a bit.. and that your IQ, though you believe yourself to be brilliant, is within 1 std deviation of the norm.

Guess who gets all the benefits? (4, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#42197073)

This is common across all sectors and all skill levels.
The corporations have set things up so that the owners and managers capture all of the profit and any productivity gains. They have also bought enough politicians to keep their tax rates low so they don't have to contribute to the "general welfare". Corporate profits and upper management incomes are at record levels.
The situation with tech wages is the same as that with WalMart employees. You are expendable and replaceable and if you make trouble you will be fired so just sit down and shut up and get to work. At least tech wages are above poverty level so they don't have to go on Medicaid and food stamps to survive... be thankful for small favors.
The last time things were this far out of kilter was the 1930s and that gave rise to the union movement (as well as socialists and communists). This time, people seem more complacent and are just happy to have small crumbs.

Marginal utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197083)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_utility

No unions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197093)

It's a free market, kiddos. You want higher wages... form a union and then sit back and wait while your job is offshored to non-unionized third world types. LOL. Suckers.

If IT is so important... (3, Insightful)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about a year ago | (#42197123)

Important != Valuable

The cleaning crew is important. Long haul truckers are important. Neither are high paying jobs.

Every occupation thinks theirs is the most important, and deserving of higher pay. IT is no different.

Re:If IT is so important... (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42197277)

It could be that all those occupations are deserving of higher pay. Companies would not last long without competent workers, just like they would not last long without competent management, but the pay difference is not even close to being in proportion. Profit would be impossible if nobody was taking the time to determine what products a company makes, what services it provides, or what markets it operates in; profit would be equally impossible if nobody were taking the time to make products, provide customers with service, or actually work in those target markets.

The Morlocks need the Elois; the Elois need the Morlocks.

More Qualifications, Same Pay (1)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year ago | (#42197125)

This study focuses on "tech" positions (a very broad description) that require a Bachelor's degree. Here's what I'm left wondering after reading this:

Are they adjusting for the fact that a low-skilled tech position (tech support) in 2000 paying $12/hr did not require a Bachelor's, but in the current workforce climate, the same low-skilled tech support job at the same pay rate commonly requires that applicants have "at least" an Associates, but preferably (read: we won't hire you if you don't have) a Bachelor's degree? If this was not adjusted for, then the reason they're seeing diluted wages vs. what they expected is because with that one little change in the requirements for a position, a lot more jobs fit their description now than did jobs in 2000, which adds a lot of low wages to their data set and reduces the overall average wage across the entire IT field.

Important expensive (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about a year ago | (#42197133)

A lot of other people can do the same job, and they will accept a low wage. Food is even more important than tech, but farm laborers make much less than tech workers.

Err supplyband demand silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197151)

That's it - the economy doesn't figure out who 'deserves' the most pay, it's supply and demand ... only.

outsourcing does it's thang (2)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year ago | (#42197155)

Use to be a hot topic, but now it's just an accepted practice. Wages are down because no one in the US wants to actually employee anyone. Stems from much larger problems with our country as a whole IMO.

Improving over the Dot Com Boom is bad? (1)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#42197173)

2000 was the top of the Dot Com boom, a gold rush period for computer professions that we may never see again. If average wages have improved in real terms at all from that starting point, it is actually kind of impressive.

One "word": H-1Bs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197193)

Throw 65,000 workers who are willing to work at sub-par wages without bitching or complaining into any narrow industry segment and wages across the board will go into the toilet. This happened with the textile industry and the meat packing industry. It is happening with IT.

Had Congress not just allowed companies to say, "wah, we can't get a CISSP for $25,000 a year, we need a gastarbeiter", the IT industry in the US would be a lot healthier... mainly because in any industry you get what you pay for. You want someone who will work cheap? You get that type of work out. You want someone who has been in the industry 20 years? You might get someone who actually knows the difference between FCoE and iSCSI.

Had Congress actually told companies to perhaps see about helping with education so there are more people hitting CS/MIT as majors (as opposed to now where high school counselors tell kids to avoid the STEM industry in general due to offshoring and hiring low-wage foreign workers), the US mighty actually still have an economy.

Supply and Demand (2)

matthaak (707485) | about a year ago | (#42197265)

What was the supply and demand for IT labor like 10 years ago? What is it like now? Therein lies the answer.

Extremely lucky they're ONLY flat (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#42197283)

IT is basically just a commodity skill these days. You buy in as much (measured in heads) as you need. You expect to be able to shop around, globally, for the cheapest cost per head.

There's no longer any need (well: almost no need) for a code-writer to be present in any particular geographical area, so long as where they are has reliable internet, stable government and degree level education. After that, it's simply a case of who is willing to do the job for the least amount of money.

The wonder is why there are still SO MANY programming jobs in costly, western countries - not that they pay so little.

Supply and Demand (1)

machinelou (1119861) | about a year ago | (#42197297)

If the unemployment rate is above historical rates for Tech jobs, that would suggest there are more workers than jobs to fill. Even if demand for tech workers is high (you suggest it's high by calling it 'so important'), wages should be flat if the supply of workers is meeting that demand. It also makes sense given the availability of substitutes (i.e., out sourcing).

Price Fixing (3, Insightful)

genfail (777943) | about a year ago | (#42197301)

..because the rich man has been engaging in price fixing for wages for the last thirty years across all areas of the economy except executive compensation.

We're complaining about making .com wages? (2)

Burning1 (204959) | about a year ago | (#42197303)

Seriously guys, are we complaining that wages are back up to .com levels? Am I the only one who remembers that as a few years of obscenely wasteful spending? Hell, I was a 16 year old making $40K a year back then.

Could you imagine a banker complaining that they aren't back up to 2006 level salaries?

How to Lie with Statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42197325)

This article could just as well have been titled "Tech Wages Now Higher than at Peak of Dot-Com Bubble". Choose two points on a wildly fluctuating curve, find the slope and make whatever conclusion you want.

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