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The economic doldrums that officially began in 2001 may well linger into 2003. Although the jobless rate for US electrical and electronics engineers is down from an all time peak of 4.8%, it's still far from the mere 1.3% it was two years ago. The telecom and computer industries-home to many electrical engineers-were first and second respectively, in job cuts in 2002. Still, there are bright spots. The defense sector continues to fire on many cylinders, and that translates into hiring in areas such as intelligence technologies, defenses against chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; and new battlefield systems such as smart bombs, unmanned air vehicles, and communications links. The US government showered the Defense Department with more than US $355 billion for fiscal year 2003, which translates into abundant job postings. Even in a few of 2002's sputtering industries, demand exists for EEs. The semiconductor industry, for one, expects better revenues than in 2002. Their optimism is based on an expected revival of the PC market, as well as expansion of wireless and automotive sales. Among the areas where engineers are in short supply: analog and mixed-signal circuit design, power management, and automated design tools.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 1 )