Fortune Magazine`s Bedecarre and Olster Fumble “Fastest Growing Jobs” Story

Variants of September 3, 2010
magazine article,
growing jobs in America
and Scott Olster, are circulating all over
the internet. It`s being

uncritically cited to
show that IT job prospects are
rosy. They aren`t.

Bedecarre and Olster based their
article on a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS): Occupations with the
largest job growth
. Two of the six job
categories mentioned are IT occupations:
and “Network
Systems and data analysts

But closer examination of the numbers
reveals that those two job categories are far from hot –
especially when

is factored into the equation.

Bedecarre and Olster say of

software engineers

“BLS expects the
cadre of software engineers and application developers
to swell to 689,900 by 2018 (up from 514,800 in 2008).
Whether they are building business software,
constructing an operating system, developing games, or
designing mobile apps, software engineers have a wide
array of career avenues to consider.”

So the

software engineering labor market
will grow by
175,100 jobs over the next decade. That may sound like a
big number. But a simple analysis of its yearly impact
on job growth yields a depressing result for

IT students

unemployed engineers
who are looking for a job in
their chosen field.

Averaged out, only 17,400 of these engineering jobs
will be added annually—to a U.S. workforce of 155
million. Put another way, the annual increases in
software engineering represents a minuscule 0.01% of the

The second IT job category touted by
Bedecarre and Olster:

“Network systems and data Analysts”.

They write:

occupation`s full title is `network systems and data
communication analysts.` And while it`s a mouthful, it
is worth remembering as it`s the second-fastest growing
occupation in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. BLS`s latest employment outlook report
estimates that the profession will grow by 53.4% to
almost 448,000 workers between 2008 and 2018.”

According to the BLS projection, this occupation will
grow from 292,000 jobs by 53.4% to almost 448,000
workers between 2008 and 2018. That works out to 155,800
jobs over the next decade, or just 15,580 a year.

Combined, these IT categories will increase the
workforce by a mere 329,800 jobs in a decade, or 32,980
jobs per year.

But many factors suggest that these BLS projections
are not credible. Its track record of predicting
shortages or surpluses in the labor market is not very
good and there is no reason to believe its latest
projections are any better.

So much for the

demand for IT labor
. Now let`s look at
supply—something Fortune did not do.

Note that the
BLS`s terms
"software engineer"
and “Network
systems and data Analysts
” could cover just about
anything to do with computers. There is no industry
standard for those job titles.
 In the real world
of high-tech, there is a large crossover of workers from
other occupations who can take these jobs—mathematicians,

, scientists, even

and liberal arts types. It`s not
unusual for computer/IT jobs to be taken by people with

nothing more than a high school degree
. All could be
regarded as
"software engineers"
and “Network
systems and data analysts

But let`s accept the

BLS assumption
that a software engineer is someone
who graduated with a software engineering degree and
fill either category of job.
Even so, the IT
job outlook is bleak for new graduates.

The number of associate degrees earned
in software engineering has fluctuated between 20,000
and 25,000 a year for the last decade, according to the

National Science Foundation
.  And U.S. schools
award about 10,000 software bachelor`s degrees every
year. Combining these two numbers, the educational
system graduates at least 30,000 students per year
eligible for software engineering jobs.

You can gauge how tight the market is
simply by subtracting the number of jobs created from
the number of college graduates qualified for those

number of software engineering analysts jobs

number of degrees issued


surplus of jobs

So software engineering is being touted as a hot
career option—yet there are barely enough jobs for
newly-graduated students.

And this is
before immigration is factored in.

Nevertheless, despite evidence to the
contrary, the BLS regularly asserts that there is a
labor force
—which in its world means there is an
impending shortage of workers that can only be resolved
by importing more foreign immigrants! This it states

“Sharply increased immigration to
the United States is expected to mitigate the projected
labor force slowdown caused by the preceding factors,
but also will continue to change the

racial and ethnic composition
of the labor force.
Hispanics, accounting for 14.3 percent of the labor
force in 2008, are expected to increase their share to
17.6 percent by 2018. Other minority groups—including

and Asians—also will increase their share of
the labor force, while

White non-Hispanics become an increasingly smaller

The employment projections for 2008–18,
Labor Review, BLS, 2009.

Table 2: Civilian
labor force, by age, sex, race, and ethnicity, 1988,
1998, 2008, and projected 2018

But in high tech, at least, BLS
numbers conclusively show that immigration will create
an even larger surplus of workers. Since American
workers won`t disappear as the foreigners arrive, the
future job market will continue to show accelerating
unemployment of high-tech workers as American workers
are replaced with the cheap
“young blood” of foreign labor.

Of course, the BLS projections are based on the
dubious assumption that the past will be the same as the
future. Using the BLS assumption that the next ten years
will be like the last, I recently calculated the number
of employment-based visas that will be issued:

Visa Type    
Average Per Year









280,000 per year, or 2.8 million over the next

Most Generous Nation in the World… at Giving Jobs Away
by Rob Sanchez,
The Social Contract
, Winter 2009-2010.]

Typically about 45%-50% of the
employment based visas in the categories above are used
for computer/IT jobs. (Estimates early in the H-1B
program pinned the share at 28%, but in recent years the
share of computer/IT has risen). At 45% the number of
visas issued for computer/IT is 126,000 and at 28% the
number is 78,400. Using either number will show that, at
present levels, high-tech immigration will cause a huge
surplus of workers in the U.S. and that means continued


stagnating salaries
, and reduced opportunities.

magazine also listed the following
jobs as “fastest growing”:

—the #1 category—biomedical engineers,
accountants, auditors, and

. These professions are also heavily
affected by employment-based visas, so they could be
analyzed the same deflating way I`ve done for

BLS data is also available that
projects the 2008-2018 outlook for the entire
computer/IT profession instead of just a few job
categories. (
Employment Projections to 2018″,

2009 Monthly Labor Review
It suggests that
the current IT workforce of 3.42 million will be
increased to 4.187 million
 in a
total new jobs created, or 106,000 average jobs
per year.

But so far the BLS projections are getting off to a
bad start because they have failed to predict short term
employment. This table shows just how wrong they can be:


IT employees

 # Jobs

Numerical Change

















So the BLS projected that in 2009 the U.S. should
have had 106,000 new computer/IT jobs—but instead there
was a net loss of 4570! (The data for 2010 hasn`t been
made available yet but it`s doubtful that enough jobs
will be created to make up for the losses of 2009.)


normal circumstances
, this broader category of
computer/IT jobs would be filled by a broader category

science-educated Americans,
even apart from those
philosophy graduates. But comparing the average annual
number of computer/IT jobs that are projected to be
created versus the number of visas to be issued for
foreign workers shows that an excess of visas will be

computer/IT related visas

106,000 new jobs


– 20,000 surplus
foreign workers.

So, to restate what will happen over the next decade:
there will be 20,000 per year more foreigners who will
enter the U.S. computer/IT labor market than there are
jobs being created—and that is assuming the BLS
predictions of job growth is not overly optimistic.


IT labor market is being swamped by immigration.

Further massive displacement of American workers is

On present trends, Americans will see no improvement
in the job market in the foreseeable future even if the
rosy projections of the BLS accurately predict the
future, and even if current immigration levels are kept
the same.

Of course, the recent push for

the DREAM act
showed that the Treason Lobby is still
determined to

expand the number of visas.

If it succeeds, the American IT workforce will face
far more despair.

Rob Sanchez (
him) is a Senior Writing Fellow for

Californians for Population

and author of the "Job
Destruction Newsletter"
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