Study: US IT employees' work hours rise 30%

IT professionals have spent one-third more hours on the job this year than they did last year, according to a report issued this week by Meta Group.

          IT professionals in the US have spent one-third more hours on the job this year than they did last year, according to a report issued this week by Meta Group.

          Analysts and users attribute the rise to time spent learning new technologies and additional work from the increasing threat of new viruses.

          "I don’t want to say that we’re at the dawn of the IT sweatshop, but we’re getting there," says Howard Rubin, a research fellow at Stamford, Connecticut-based Meta Group.

          The study, based on an online survey of approximately 3000 IT managers and executives, reports that IT spending among US companies increased 8.7% this year.

          As a result, says Rubin, IT workers are spending more time on the job, earning new technologies in addition to doing their existing work.

          But Tom Bachrach, a senior systems engineer at New York-based brokerage firm Salomon Smith Barney Holdings, attributs his longer work hours to more time spent handling computer viruses.

          Another survey finding was that employee turnover at US companies rose 2% from last year.

          Bachrach says he thinks some IT workers leave their positions because they get frustrated at companies that are reluctant to use newer technologies.

          "Corporations are extremely reluctant to jump on the bandwagon [with] new technology," says Bachrach. That makes it difficult for an IT employee to increase skills and salary, he says.

          Salaries for IT professionals rose by 6.6% this year, with the greatest increase in networking- and internet-related areas. That figure is close to the 6.8% gain reported by RHI Consulting, an IT staffing firm in Menlo Park, California.

          In a report released this week, RHI predicted that average starting IT salaries would rise even more next year, by an average of 8.4%.

          However, the report says, some categories of workers — such as chief technical officers, e-commerce specialists and business systems analysts — will see salary increases of 10% to 11%. RHI attributed the increase to strong projected IT hiring activity next year.

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