Survey says some earn more than $83 per hour

High-tech temps are in demand

Survey says some earn more than $83 per hour

Tom Abate, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 13, 2007

U.S. employers are bidding for high-tech temporary workers with such sought-after skills as database development, hardware engineering and clinical trial administration, according to a survey of technology employment released Thursday by a company that places consultants in temp jobs.

The wage snapshot issued by Philadelphia’s Yoh.com looked at the hourly pay of 5,000 temporary workers in a range of high-tech fields and reported the average wages in the 10 hottest occupational areas.


Topping the list were the consultants who get an average of
$83.72 per hour to design enterprise resource planning databases —
compared with the $48.41 per hour fetched by the average temporary
aerospace engineer, the lowest-paying of the 10 jobs.

"This is
actual data from actual paychecks,” said Yoh Vice President Jim
Lanzalotto. He said the survey doesn’t separate those temps who also
get health benefits from those who don’t. But current wages are the
highest since he started this paycheck survey in 2001.

"In general we’re in a rising tide economy,” Lanzalotto said.

This
bullish picture comes as the high-tech industry is lobbying Congress to
increase the number of skilled foreign workers that firms can hire
under a controversial temporary work permit called an H-1B visa.
Critics of that program said they hear anecdotal reports that, for many
types of tech workers, wages are stagnant.

"The reason wages
are being depressed are twofold: the outsourcing of jobs to lower-wage
countries, and bringing in workers on H-1Bs,” said Todd Tollefson, a
union organizer with WashTech, the Seattle local of the Communications
Workers of America. The CWA also represents about 1,000 employees at
The Chronicle.

Jared Bernstein, an economist with the liberal
Economic Policy Institute, said whatever may be happening in hot
fields, "Wage trends over the last five to six years don’t tend to see
tremendous growth."

But Lanzalotto said, unlike the broad
statistics studied by economists, the Yoh paycheck survey catches the
real pay of temps whose contracts measure the worth of various skills
at a given point in time.

By this measure, employers are
bidding for temporary workers who know how to create or manage
applications based on corporate databases such as Oracle Corp. or SAP
AG, as well as project managers who can orchestrate technical
developments. Hardware engineers are also in demand as electronics
firms try to churn out products with ever-shorter shelf lives.
Likewise, biotech firms are scrambling to hire the clinical research
associates who work directly with the patient volunteers who test
experimental medicines, he said.

Whereas the Yoh survey looked at temp wages for select jobs, Salary.com
offers a "Salary Wizard" that allows people to spot-check the pay for a
given occupation, such as accounting, in a specific locale. The address
is swz.salary.com.

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