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Businesses Technology

US Predicts Zero Job Growth For Electrical Engineers (bls.gov) 223

dcblogs writes: An occupation long associated with innovation, electrical and electronics engineering, has stopped growing, according to the U.S. government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in an update of its occupational outlook released Friday, said that the number of people employed as electrical and electronics engineers is now at 316,000, and will remain mostly unchanged for the next decade. The government put the 10-year job outlook for electronic and electrical engineers at "0% — little or no change." The IEEE-USA said the BLS estimates "are probably correct."
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US Predicts Zero Job Growth For Electrical Engineers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The jobs here are stolen from us and given to immigrants and the companies are outsourcing everything else to China and India.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The jobs were not stolen because they were never yours to begin with. Jobs are for employers to give out, not for employees to own. Employers are giving jobs to people who can do them more efficiently and more economically. If you can, compete. If you can't do it more economically, add value to your work. Be exceptional. If you can't, your problem. Sorry.

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )

        Jobs are for employers to give out, not for employees to own.

        I agree, but the point is the employers are colluding with government to skew it in their favor.

    • Stolen? Why don't the Chinese and Indians deserve jobs? Can't you compete?

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )

        Stolen? Why don't the Chinese and Indians deserve jobs? Can't you compete?

        No, they DON'T deserve jobs in the USA over US citizens.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Nobody deserves jobs. Nobody deserves anything.

          We enter into these arrangements for mutual benefit. Everything else is just politics.

          • by unimacs ( 597299 )
            The worker enters the agreement because they need to get paid. The company only needs so many workers so there is almost always more potential workers than jobs. There are 7 billion people in the world after all.

            It's a level playing field for only a relatively few specialized occupations and those who are in industries where the workers have organized. Unions are in decline in this country and not so coincidentally so is the middle class.
    • Mod the AC up because he's right, and those that are modding him down are probably H1-B workers sending their money out of the U.S.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everything else is being exported to the third world, but EEs won't all be?

    Of course, I also expect this to be way optimistic. China's started to develop its own interesting shit rather than just do what American companies tell it.

  • Love his claim that there is no talent in the US- a self fulfilling prophecy isn't it?
  • Not suprising (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It really isn't surprising, at least on the computer/networking side of things. Tech in general has been stagnant for about 10 years, particularly in network hardware. What new innovations on the hardware side have there been? An iPad with a slightly larger screen? A curved LED television? On the network side Juniper and Cisco see no need to innovate.

  • I have no idea what the turnover rate is for EEs. Some fraction of those in the profession will retire, die or otherwise leave the profession leaving room for new graduates in these fields even if its population is constant. And of course if the age distribution is such that an increasing number are nearing retirement age during the next 10 years the opportunities for new grads will increase. The original article doesn't say anything about that.
    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @04:20PM (#51160993) Journal

      Job creation at zero means there are no new jobs created. If someone replaces a worker in a job, that's still only one job, not a new job.

      Technological innovation serves to reduce the labor required to produce a product. Jobs grow when we reduce scarcity: with 1,000,000 acres of land and hunter-gatherer society, you can only hunt so many deer and collect so many berries; go agrarian and you can get 10 times as much food; and bring it up to modern agricultural practices and genetically-modified crops and you can take that to 70 times as much. Don't believe me? The optimistic projection for hunter-gatherer society is a maximum of 135 million humans supported before exhausting all resources and incurring mass famine; our modern agricultural practice feeds over 7,000 million humans.

      Reduce scarcity. If you have 1,000,000 acres of arable land, you'll expend the same amount of labor to farm each acre, the same amount of labor to feed each new person. When you run out of arable land, you have to expend extra labor to transport water for irrigation, to manufacture fertilizer, and to harvest smaller yields. That means instead of 10 hours to feed one person, you have to expend 20 hours. That's where scarcity comes from: we can continue to expand, but we'll have to pour in more human labor, meaning we have to pay these people, which means the cost of goods goes up, which means standard-of-living falls and some people just don't have anything to trade (notably, currency) to buy enough food to live.

      In markets, reducing the labor that goes into a product reduces its cost, reducing its minimum price, enabling us to sell that product to more of the consumer market. As the price comes down, existing consumers end up with more money in their pockets, and can buy new goods. Producing more of a good and producing a new good both require labor, which creates new jobs for the ones we displace by lowering labor costs.

      That only holds us at an equal number of jobs. When you become capable of scaling up further without incurring more than a proportional increase in labor, you create more jobs: you can make more units without increasing the cost-per-unit. That's often accompanied by an increase in population, which creates more jobs.

      In politics, you look at unemployment rate when consumer markets recover from a rapid job depletion, pointing out the lowering of the marginal unemployment. You look at number of jobs created and pointedly avoid mentioning unemployment rate when scarcity decreases, creating more jobs but also creating more total unemployed, managing to not affect the unemployment rate in the process.

      Given all that, a stagnation of job creation in EE doesn't necessarily mean we're not innovating; we may be innovating new analysis methods which require fewer EEs, thus shifting their labor away.

      • Mostly from what I've seen, custom hardware is being replaced by off the shelf components with customizable software.
        • Mostly from what I've seen, custom hardware is being replaced by off the shelf components with customizable software.

          Which is why this EE major from 25 years ago is now a programmer.... Actually the writing has been on the wall for decades and I realized early in my career that engineering hardware like in the 50, 60, and 70 was quickly going to die out. Bailed out into Software Engineering to beat the mad rush.

          • by rfengr ( 910026 )
            I graduated 22 years ago and have been doing RF/Microwave/Antenna hardware since, but I suppose that is a niche. I don't foresee the need going away in the next 25 years.
        • More than that, engineers have generalized broad workloads into categories, and created standard hardware to handle those workloads. GPGPU allows hardware acceleration of anything similar to GPU processing; it's cost-effective, as designing hardware *and* software for a specialized task (bitcoin mining, protein folding, encryption cracking) is obviously more complex than designing only specialized software. PhysX specifically targets physics, a broad problem, and so reduces the amount of programming need

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          Mostly from what I've seen, custom hardware is being replaced by off the shelf components with customizable software.

          Yes, I have this trend over the last ten years and accentuated over the last five years.

          The 1990's was the golden age of the IC startup. Many many companies were designing their own chips as a result of new tools and the new decoupling of design and manufacturing.

          But as we moved through the 2000's, the cost of a developing a new chip rose astronomically. This is due to a combination of the need to make much more complex chips to be competitive and greatly increasing cost to gear up manufacturing at smalle

      • At 316K that's roughly 1/1000 population - if you think about what EEs do, you wouldn't expect 25 EEs per 1000 people. One engineer designs something that is replicated at least dozens, if not thousands or millions of times. There's quite a bit of prototype / research work which supports later mass production, but all in all, the EEs make the hardware, and you don't want too much diversity of hardware design, otherwise the software gets to be a mess. And, over the last 20 years, software has been creepin

  • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Monday December 21, 2015 @04:29PM (#51161065) Homepage

    A lot of boomer EEs are retiring soon. So don't think there are no jobs.

    • as people retire I'm seeing companies replace them with outsourcing. This way they can quietly outsource the jobs without the bad press from the layoffs. I'm guessing that's a big part of this 0% job growth. That and our lack of manufacturing. We make a lot of stuff but we don't use very many people to do it. A lot of EEs and engineers in general used to work at factories, but you just don't need that many of them. It's part of the general increases of productivity that we're seeing everywhere. That plus th
    • by rfengr ( 910026 )

      A lot of boomer EEs are retiring soon. So don't think there are no jobs.

      Hate to bust your bubble, but there is no glut of baby boomer engineers waiting to retire. They were run out a long time ago due to age discrimination or just being fed up with corporate America.

    • i think there's a difference between the number of jobs and number of job openings. The original article asserts that the number of EE workers will remain constant for the next 10 years. If that's so and some workers vacate their job positions as EEs either by retirement or for other reasons, then there will be some opportunities for EE graduates. Where they come from is another question.

      What we need are the data as to the number of new hires that will be needed to keep that worker number constant. It w
  • Well, I did not really read the report. I thought it would be quite funny if zero growth is the best among *all* engg majors ;-)
  • by emptybody ( 12341 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @04:40PM (#51161135) Homepage Journal

    step 1 - cancel all EE H1B holder's VISA.
    problem solved.

    • Would prefer H1B holders working in the US, paying US taxes, or working in their country of origin, paying taxes there? That is your choice.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except that the reality is that your assumption won't happen. There is a reason that outsourcing has failed in the long term for almost every project: the infrastructure and communication required to outsource a project successfully just does not exist in the countries the higher ups want to outsource them to. If it was possible, they would not bring in H1-B's for $65k when they could outsource it for $35k.

        If you take away the $65k option, they are left with the $100k vs. the $35k option which they have a

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @04:41PM (#51161145) Homepage

    Sure, there is zero percent growth. But rest assured companies will argue that they still can't find any qualified workers and require H1B Visa holders to be imported and paid a meager $65K a year, rather than the $110K/year of the U.S. engineer they just let go.

  • by mpthompson ( 457482 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @04:42PM (#51161151)

    I do robotics development in Silicon Valley for both new startups and with large established companies. Our small team is a mix of software and electrical engineers (we team up with other firms doing mechanical and industrial design) and we're finding it difficult to keep up with all the opportunities in the burgeoning robotics field. The nice thing is it seems we're just at the infancy of robotics so growth should be sustainable for quite a while.

    I don't know if growth in robotics can compensate for overall declines elsewhere, but it's at least one promising area of growth for electrical engineer over the coming decade and beyond. Currently, pretty much every robot is a unique design built from the ground up so the opportunities are very similar to what was available in the Valley during the early days of computing when pretty much every computer design was unique and created from the ground up. Certainly this will eventually change, but for now it makes for fun and interesting work that is in demand.

    • I thought ALL electrical engineers went into it because they wanted to work with robots! I mean, isn't that the best part of being one?
    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      ^^ This, and also the whole electric car explosion. Um... NOT pun intended, but apropos considering what would happen if we really started to increase our electrical power infrastructure to support this without more knowledgable EEs adept at transforming and inverting and conducting higher-energy electrical components around the increasingly distributed power grid.

    • Hey, quick question.

      I have a degree in EE and did some grad work in CS. Did a robotics internship with NASA many years ago and have been working as a software developer ever since. Some DoD contracting, now working in cybersecurity, but I don't find any of this stuff too fulfilling. I'm a huge 12-year-old at heart -- I want to be working on robots or spaceships!

      That being said, based on my experience, those jobs don't exist [here]. I closest thing I could find was working for a contract manufacturer of
      • I'm in a similar boat, only on the IC side of things...

        Maybe the answer is California (doesn't seem to be anywhere in the Midwest or West). To me, though, that environment seems to have a lot of people "crushing it" who are really just crushing whatever financially independent future they might have had. I wonder how many truly succeed there (and for how long), and how many end up attempting to set up shop with some organic fusion bar or whatever... not that there's anything wrong with organic fusion bar

      • Since you asked, I'll describe a bit what lead me down the path to my current career in robotics: Graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering in the late 80's my career has since been all over the map. I've done real-time embedded system design on phone switches, moved to application development on held devices back when they were called "pen computers", then multimedia applications for the web, then Internet search engine development when the .com boom was in full swing and finally Linux application

    • Why would those robot design firms require lots of EEs? Couldn't they just use existing FPGAs or smartphone CPUs to control things?

  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Monday December 21, 2015 @05:25PM (#51161517) Homepage
    Keep in mind that these may be called Electrical engineers, but while the discussion here is around electronics product design,many EEs work outside outside of designing electronics. The article statistics represent a broad line of sub-specialties. Many EEs are employed as PEs working with buildings/architectural firms, manufacturing engineering, industrial controls (such as water treatment plant controls) and transmission lines. Many older embedded software engineers have EE degrees, but many of the up and coming embedded software engineers I see are not out of pure EE programs. Even for electronic design there is a lot of work writing verilog code that feels more like SW coding than biasing transistors and measuring with an O-scope. For that matter, MEs end-up with a much broader range of different subspecialties and not just drawing HVAC vents.
    • You have a point. My university stopped giving out Electrical and Computer engineering degrees (like mine) about the same time I graduated. They went to two degrees, Electrical Engineer (power systems and electronics) and Computer Engineering (Designing computer systems components) way back then.

      If you think about it, Power systems Electrical engineers have been generally on life support for 30 years, being relegated to designing power systems in buildings for the most part, ever since the bulk of the ru

  • At least in my industry (power), there is still a demand for good young engineers, in pretty well paying positions. A good part of that is retirement, but there is a bit of growth as well. You might not start at six figures, but you will get there in 4-5 years if you are solid.

  • This estimate assumes that the world remains exactly same as today - no space missions, no solar and wind farms, no electric cars and buses. We already know that we have to do a lot of those things because of global warming, and countless things we don't know about will be invented during the next decade. A lot of them will require plenty of electrical design, construction and service.

  • Can we assume there is no need for H1B visa for EEs then?

  • Don't go into electrical engineering

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