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anybody seeing an end to this recession?

Any end in sight? or is it still doom and gloom for the job market?

anon
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Totally. We've had the best quarter in our company's history, and we sell to the employment industries. We're even hiring programmers. And it only looks like it's getting better. Next month should be pretty crazy.

Name Withheld By Author's Request.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

"We're even hiring programmers."

Post a link?


Tuesday, March 25, 2003

No.  Yes.

z
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I can't speak in general, but my company had a great last 2 quarters, and we are cautiously optimistic. We even started hiring again.

So from where _I'm_ sitting, we might be on the road to recovery. Of course, difficult for me to tell you for sure -- ask me in 2 years and I'll let you know when things got better. :P

Steven C.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

"The buzz is back"

http://joi.ito.com/archives/2003/03/10/kim_says_the_buzz_is_back.html

unrealist
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

No, the recession is here to stay, according to this article from the _New York Times_:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/24/business/24ECON.html

Here's an excerpt:

==========================

Increasingly, corporate executives and some economists worry that the slow-growth economy of the last three years might in fact be the new reality, one that will bedevil workers and investors for a few more years.

"When it all comes out, we're going to have a significantly less sanguine outlook than we did in the late 90's," said Dale W. Jorgenson, an economist at Harvard University and an expert in productivity, widely seen as the most important factor for future growth. "That's something we're just going to have to get used to."

====================

Alex Chernavsky
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I guess now it depends on how the war goes. If you are in the oil/ enginerring industry you should not have a problem.

Companies like Haliburton, etc will be doing well from now on.

I guess growth is going to be very gradual every quarter.

Prakash S
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Kim Polese thinks things are turning around?  *Now* I'm depressed.

Hardware Guy
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Let's be fair... the late 90's were insanity personified. I never want to see that again in this industry. It was bad for everybody in the long run.

Recruiters have started spontaneously e-mailing me about opportunities again. That tells me it's looking up, but maybe that's just where I am.

Brad (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Maybe it's just my personal experience combined with my urge to be optimistic, but things do appear to be looking up.  I'm returning to work in April ... great job too.  I really hope it's an upward trend. 

Immature programmer
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I think in a few months (years?) people will look back and say the recession officially ended on March 19th, 2003.

just a coincidence the war started then
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

"Increasingly, corporate executives and some economists worry that the slow-growth economy of the last three years might in fact be the new reality, one that will bedevil workers and investors for a few more years."

Oh cool!
From what I've seen, the surest sign that a situation is about to change dramatically is when the pundits start sighing "looks like this is the new reality"

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I think the real problem is the unrealistic expectations set in the late '90s for growth in computer related jobs. So if the question is: "is the recession over and are we back to the job growth rate of the late '90s?" the answer is no, and will stay no.

Now, if the question is, "have we hit bottom and started growing, albeit at a very slow rate", then I would say yes.

The problem is that the very slow growth rate is probably going to persist for a long time.

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I've noticed a increase in US government contracting due to new homeland security and variaous other programs receiving funding. My old employer, a commercial contractor that went bust, has reopened under another name and now does goverment contracting.

But that is all relative to my area, Washington DC. I am not sure if government spending is up around the country.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Recession??  What recession?  Did I miss something?

:)

Bryan Shaw
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I'd say complaining about slow growth is a wee bit odd... Surely *any* growth is something of a good thing?

optimistic coder
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

"I'd say complaining about slow growth is a wee bit odd... Surely *any* growth is something of a good thing?"

Well, if the growth isn't fast enough to pick up the unemployed and underemployed millions before they lose the roof over their heads, it still could be a problem.

T. Norman
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I'd just like to say that I lost my good-paying network-installer job back in January of 2001.  I got laid off before it became the cool thing to do, thank you very much.

Kyralessa
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

In reply to Bill Tomlinson,

Well that sounds like solid advice, what will people have to do then to make that sort of money in the 90s again? What will sell and what won't in a perpetually realistic slow-growth economy? Stay techie? Do something else?

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Li-fan Chen:

Well, frankly, people working in computer related jobs simply won't be able to make the kind of money that they could in the late '90s. And if one were planning their future based on the assumtion that they could, they'd be in trouble. (Well, we can't rule out another bubble in the future (10+ years), but it's unlikely to be in the same field.)

As to whether to stay in computer related work or not. Well, there is certainly an over-supply of people looking for jobs in this sector; so yeah, if you don't really like it (or need to make big bucks) I'd suggest changing careers.

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

This annoys me.  I really don't want to have to change careers right now.  I *like* to code.  I didn't get into programming because I wanted the money.

We'd solve the oversupply problem pretty easily if we just forced everybody who got into programming for the money to switch careers, I swear. :/

flamebait sr.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

It's happening, slowly but surely. People who started programming for the money are leaving now that the easy pickin's are over.

what would *really* help would be some clueful management that understood what "results" are and what a quality product looked like - that would really speed the exodus of the incompetent.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

That's a rare happening.

You either get an engineer who can't manage as a manager, or a manager who is clueless about engineering.  Unless you have a gifted manager or a pretty self-sufficient set of enginers.

flamebait sr.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

A good manager who knows nothing about engineering would be fine - you don't have to know engineering to recognize bad software.

"Hey, how come the network slows to a crawl when your software runs?"

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Unconfirmed, in the past 2 years, US has moved about 1.000.000 IT jobs to Asia and Eastern Europe. The next 2 years should raise this number to 3.000.000 (from a german IT journal).

Recession or not, finding a job in the US will be harder.

Dino

Dino
Thursday, March 27, 2003

One of the key responsibilities of a manager is to manage/minimize risk.  This is probably the most important aspect of resource allocation.

A manager who is clueless is very likely to screw this up.

I can come up with a dozen more reasons why a tehcnically clueless manager would suck:

1. Doesn't understand core technologies.  Example: What if you have to partner with a 3rd party encryption/authentication supplier?  Mr. clueless won't know where to start or what the service is worth.

2. Cannot participate in scheduling.  Well, no doubt Mr. Clueless will participate.  Too bad.

3. Doesn't understand that code quality cannot be sacrificed.  Will often use the phrase "can't you just..."

What exactly does a non-technical manager do?  I've dealt with a very few non-technical managers.  They didn't understand what was good practice, but insisted that it be done "their way".  I remember one guy insisting that the source control directory heirarchy be structured a specific way so he could understand it. Fortunately, he didn't last long.  Be rid of them ASAP.

Nat Ersoz
Thursday, March 27, 2003

First, one has to distinguish between our particular industry, and then the general Economy.

We have had a lot debates and “worrying” about jobs being shipped out of North America. Certainly some of this trend will continue, but that in no way means that our industry is not going to be a incredible and viable part of the economy.

The idea that because someone is willing to work for less in another part of the world means your job is threatened is a very limited intellectual approach. It is not even close to be such a simple thing. If that was the case, then all automobiles we purchase would be built in china. Fact is, that we can easily produce cars at a competitive rate, and pay people EXTREMELY well at the same time. That is why we have such a high standard of living here. That is why so many people want to come to north America to work. We have our high standard living because we are in fact are VERY productive. That is how and why we are more expensive then 3 world labor. This wage differential is in fact a result of our education and investment in new technology. We will and are continuing to educate people to the high standards that we have. If another country can accomplish this level of education and use of technology, then they will simply have the same standard of living that we do!! (and thus no doubt their developers will cost the same!). Fact is, the whole world is on a more equal footing then it ever has been.

However, I don’t see us rushing to purchase cars from China, or even India for that matter. If those countries figure out how to build better cars, or software, then we might start to worry.  As far as I can tell, as a export product we probably export more software then we do cars! There is no doubt that other countries will become players in the Auto Industry, or the software industry.

You can become a story writer in the poorest country in the world. If you don't have a pen, you can use a stick and write your stories in the mud. Of course, if you don’t have a local weather station, then your story might only last until the first rain fall. Hence, you need other infrastructures to write stories. In fact, a weather station might be required!

However, there is virtually no investment required here to become a writer. Why then does not Hollywood not lay off all the script writers, and ship the jobs to those living in MUD huts?. You can send those people a $5 turkey, and they will probably write for several months, and live off that nice turkey. They might even take the turkey after all the meat is removed and make fabulous turkey soup. (my father does this, and is sooo yummy!)

The script writers and people in Hollywood are in fact very talented. This talent and education is the key to our whole economy. The other important ingredient is the “parts” required to make the whole thing work (like the weather station).

I have often posted comments about how tough or bad the IT industry is. However, I perhaps have to use caution, since for me, I feel very confident about the future of our industry, and thus a freely criticize it also. The most confident people are the ones that tend to REALLY criticize our industry (I said criticize, not complain about!!). Perhaps some are not nearly understanding as to how our economy works. The mention of shipping jobs out of the country should NOT send a chill down your back.

Certainly some cherry jobs don’t exist like they used to, but to take the last 2 or 3 years of our industry and view this as a norm is stupid. The sky is not falling, and if you are a educated professional, AND YOU are productive, then you have little to worry about.

The main problem was that many low skilled jobs like simple HTML layout brought tons and tons of people into the industry. Like anything else, you pay someone $55,000 per year for a skill that can be learned in less than a week, you are going to attract HOARDS AND HORDES of people into the industry. A lot of people with simple 6 week tech school courses jumped into our industry. I don’t know of any profession that can function with people who have a 6 week course!! It is stupid economy that is willing to pay someone that kind of money for something that does not have that kind of value!

For probably the last 20 years the general business community HAS ALWAYS complained about programmer shortages. The general business community has always complained about a shortage of engineers. Fact is, there is not one. My whole point here is if you view our IT industry as a profession, then you start to understand that the future is very bright indeed. It also means that a 6 week course, or even a 4 year course may very well not be enough to keep you employed in the technology industry.

As a people, our standard of living is very much based on the fact that we educate people, and invest heavily in technology. The rest of the world also does this.

When you look at the big picture, and if you are professional in the industry then the future looks very bright. One thing one must do is CONSTANTLY upgrade skills. You MUST invest time in your personal carrier. It is NOT enough to just sit down and read Joel on Software. It is not enough to learn C++ and think your are done.

Go out there an make your mark. Stand up and be counted. If you really do have the talent, then a world of opportunity awaits you.

Here is great article on our industry, and the job future:

What Are You Worth?
http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,47135,00.html

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, March 27, 2003

I look at it like this: Whatever happens to the economy, the top 10% developers will be able to find work. So, be one of the top 10% (it's easier than you think, apparently less than 10% of programmers buy a book related to their field in any given year).

Andrew Reid
Thursday, March 27, 2003

The smart ones don't buy it. They put it on expenses.


Thursday, March 27, 2003

I almost never expenced my books - that way there's no question about whether they were mine or the company's when I left. The only exceptions were books that I wouldn't want to take (an ABAP/4 book, for instance).

As to the top 10% of developers always being able to find work - I don't think it works that way any more (if it ever did). There are too many factors involved including the number of jobs that are open.

Here in Chicago Lucent, Motorola, and several other large tech employeers laid off a sizeable percentage of their workforce (not to mention all of the other companies getting rid of tech people). At the same time, there have been very few new jobs created. When there are over 500 resumes sent for each open position, you know that less then 10% are finding a job in a reasonable amount of time (I'm going on 6 months).

RocketJeff
Thursday, March 27, 2003

Hi Albert,

You made some interesting points, but there is a difference between manufacturing and software. Software is different from most other things.

Manufacturing the car in china or whereever is not the problem, but getting to the customers in North America is the problem. With software that is not a issue, which is why software is different from any other industry, be it construction, etc...

Prakash S
Friday, March 28, 2003

Buzz.  I agree that there is a significant increase in buzz in SV. That's my first-hand observation.  I don't think that this means the end of the recession. But it does mean a lot of people have moved past the downturn emotionly and are just working on cool stuff.  Working on cool stuff in SV or anywhere else may not have the same effect it had before but buzz is much better than no buzz regardless of the economy.

And Albert, this agrees that you must update your skills etc.. but disagrees about the qualty/productivity of non-US programmers:

http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/talks/HowToKeepYourJob/HowToKeepYourJob.htm

fool for python
Friday, March 28, 2003

>>Hi Albert,

>>You made some interesting points, but there is a difference between manufacturing and software. Software is different from most other things.

Yes, that is why I brought up Hollywood. My whole point here is that anyone can write in a MUD hut. (did you not read my post???).  I brought up Hollywood and writing because Hollywood and writing is very much like software. (there is no manufactured part to the work).  This was my WHOLE point!!

Hence since there is no manufactured part, then the claim being made here is that the job will be exported.  Hollywood script writing, Software, and even Legal work means there is NOT reason to not farm the work out. Yet, all the work is NOT being farmed out. There is tons of industry without a manufactured component that is still done in North America.

Fact is, Hollywood does not farm out all its script re-writing work, and yet it could for a much lower cost. (we are talking about a lot of basic grunt work here).

My whole point was that the guy in the MUD hut might need a weather station.  And, thus, some programmer might then want to work at the weather station also. It is this INTERACTION that makes the whole thing work. It is not the fact that the guy in the MUD hut can’t write good Hollywood scripts, or even good software for that matter. He might be the best software writer in the world, but without those other infrastructures such as Hollywood etc, then those skills are not valuable.

Hence, the other person is also missing my whole point:

>>>And Albert, this agrees that you must update your skills etc.. but disagrees about the qualty/productivity of non-US programmers:

No, I made zero claim as to the quality, or ability of other developers around the world. I make NO SUCH claim. The only thing I am saying is that you need all of the pieces of the puzzle together to make this work. That guy in the MUD hut is not competitive because his country has not invested in the infrastructure and technology to take advantage of his software skills. I specifically stated we do well because of continued investments in training and technology. Other country’s will have to do the same to become competitive.

If those other countries get all of the pieces of the puzzle together to make good software, then they will be living in a country that probably has the same standard of living that we do. And this is a good thing, since then that country will also be consuming software, and even purchasing golf carts and lots of computers.

Take a look Russia. They have FIRST RATE math and computing skills. The main reason why Russia is not more prominent in the software industry is because they are like that guy in the MUD hut. He can write great scripts, but has no Hollywood, or not even a weather station to help him. The problem is that most Russian firms cannot take advantage of the incredible skills that they have. Heck, they still hardly write bank checks in Russia, let alone use electronic banking. How can they possibly develop viable software industry in that kind of environment? That software developer will never get a chance to write some good banking software. The industry cannot even support the emergence of developers that write good banking software.

As a result, good banking software is not going to get written in Russia. This has got ZERO TO do with the ability of the developers.

And, speaking of the HUGE Banking industry, and Insurance industry, they also have a product that has NO manufacturing cost.

Why has banking and insurance not left the country also? I am sure there are other country’s in the World that know how to run a bank.

You folks are missing my point if you just focus on one aspect of developing software, and just focus on the skill level of the developer.  However, this continued development, and investment into infrastructure in our County is really what gives us our high standard of living.

This whole issue is far more complex then just electronically shipping out a job. It is not that simple. If it was, the other industries with no manufacturing component would have left the country 20 years ago.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, March 31, 2003

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