Despite presumably being a critical source of innovation in today’s technological society, the number of employed electrical engineers fell almost 10% last year. Patrick Thibodeau reports at Computerworld that “this occupational category has been shedding workers for years. In 2006, for instance, there were 382,000 people working in this field.” Today, the rolls stand at 271,000, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate for this profession is only 2%. By contrast, the number of software developers increased by about 12%, reaching some 1.2 million.
The decline in the number of electrical engineers could be due to a variety of factors. The decline has been ongoing for years, and the reasons likely involve other long-term trends rather than isolated or short-term events. For instance, “good-enough” computing in some consumer markets (most notably PCs) makes additional innovation in some areas less profitable. Increasingly, this same phenomenon is affecting tablets and smartphones as well, possibly manifesting itself as what seems like an out-of-character entrance into smartwatches by Apple. The decline may also owe to macroeconomic factors. Regardless of the cause, the effects may take some time to reveal themselves, perhaps in declining innovation over the next decade or two.
Read more about electrical engineers