The distant tech boom of the nineties pushed salaries for software professionals up substantially to current levels, but that's about our only link to the time when companies were begging for technically astute personnel. Most observers say that the programmers' job market has changed forever. Underscoring the uncertain days ahead for programmers, data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that average salaries offered to new college graduates inched up in 2003 to US$51763 but haven't matched the 2001 peak of $52291. Additionally, although company downsizing seems to be nearing an end, most observers feel that outsourcing, immigration, and continued pressure to trim costs mean that white-collar workers will continue to struggle to find new employers. And these factors generally hit the software field harder than other technical fields.