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Ed Frauenheim

Staff Writer, CNET

Tech industry workers’ confidence in the job market was little changed in January, according to a new report.

Staffing firm Hudson Highland Group on Wednesday said its monthly employment index for the information technology sector rose by a smidgeon from December. Job satisfaction increased, and IT workers were happier about their personal finances, according to the study.

Job security fears, however, also rose. The percent of IT workers worried about losing their jobs in the near future increased from 23 percent in December to 26 percent in January.

The way U.S. technology professionals feel about their job situation continues to be mixed, and for good reason. 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, according to Department of Labor data. Nonetheless, more than 175,000 high-tech workers were laid off last year, according to a recent report. And the threat that tech work will be sent overseas remains real.

Perhaps because of concerns about offshoring, IT workers were more worried about losing their jobs in the near future than U.S. workers overall, according to Hudson. Just 19 percent of the U.S. work force in January was worried about soon losing its job.

Fifty-eight percent of IT employees rated their finances as excellent or good in January, compared with 51 percent in December.

Hudson’s employment index for IT workers edged up to 116.6 in January from 116.3 in December. The overall index rose to 106.2, from 103.6 in December.

The employment index, calculated from survey questions covering work and personal-finance issues, is designed to measure U.S. workers’ confidence in the employment market. It examines sectors such as IT, health care and manufacturing, and is based on surveys of about 9,000 U.S. workers. Hudson began the index roughly a year ago, assigning a base number of 100 for its December 2003 survey.