IT Salaries Improving Despite Recession

While the economy is hitting technology companies hard, a new report suggests that
corporate information technology jobs may be a bit more recession-proof. Computer
Economics’s 2009 IT Salary Report finds that while salary growth has slowed, IT worker
pay is still projected to increase on average by 2 percent this year — and the salaries
of IT executives, managers and software developers are outpacing others in the field.

Computer Economics has published its report on IT salaries for the last 20 years,
Longwell said. The report is based on a survey of IT organizations taken in the 4th
quarter of the year, collecting data on current and projected salaries for 70 specific IT
job titles.

“We were quite surprised,” John Longwell, research director at Computer Economics.
Told “I expected to see at least flat growth in some areas, but
we see two percent growth across the board.”

Developers are projected to see the strongest wage growth, with an average 3.6 percent
salary increase in 2009. IT Managers are projected to see a salary increase of 3.5
percent on average, while IT executives and directors will see a 3.4 percent raise on

The increase in developer pay is likely linked to the need to improve efficiency,
Longwell said. “Companies still have to maintain their applications, they are still
investing in legacy application modernization initiatives. While there’s not a lot of new
initiatives, they still want to squeeze more productivity out of IT. If you’re cutting
staff in general, you’re trying to make that up with more efficient IT.”

As far as managers and executives go, their salary increases may simply be offsetting
decreases in other compensation, the report speculated. “More of their compensation is
based on variable incentive pay, so their overall compensation may not be rising any
faster than other workers,” Longwell said. “That’s one explanation.”

But there was no wide gulf between the wage prospects of the fastest-growing wage
earners and the rest of the field in the study. “There’s not a lot of differentiation
across different levels or functions this year,” Longwell said. “That flattening is
probably related to the recession–these raises probably have more to do with cost of
living than performance-based annual raises.”

And while the report suggests that staffing levels would remain steady from 2008 to
2009, indications are that won’t hold for long.

“Now what we’re seeing in the preliminary polling that began in the first quarter is
that the mood is changing a bit, and we are going to see some reductions in staff
levels,” said Longwell. “How much, we don’t know. It is impacting IT, how much we don’t
know, but we think IT is going to be more sheltered than some areas.”

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