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By Jack Ganssle

Jobs: Has the Meltdown Hit Us Yet?

Published 2/18/2009

In early October I ran a poll (http://embedded.com/pollArchives/showPoll.jhtml?surveyno=264501002 ) about engineering job projects in a time of financial panic. 72% of respondents thought that in the embedded arena, at least, things were at least OK if not pretty good.

Has that changed?

For more than a year, now, we've heard tales of doom and gloom. Last Spring a stimulus check did nothing. During the summer gloomy economists drew parallels with other recessions; now, those same people have pulled out the Great Depression as the only event worse than current conditions, at least in the 20th century.

(Side rant: Who are these economists, anyway? Some have won remarkable prizes for their financial acumen, but very few predicted this crash. To listen to their prognostications now seems very much like consulting a spendthrift for long-term investment advice. Economists and weather forecasters are not held accountable for being right. If you replaced economists with weather people, and vice versa, would their predictions be any less accurate?)

In the Fall a stimulus plan didn't stimulate. The markets continued to slide.

Unemployment figures skyrocket each month.

Now we have another stimulus program. No one seems to agree what it will do, other than raise the debt to even more alarming levels. Certainly, these economic issues are beyond my ken.

But I run free job ads in my Embedded Muse newsletter (http://www.ganssle.com/tem-back.htm). These have fallen off considerably.

I wrote in that October piece that Microsoft added numerous employees in their latest fiscal year. Since then they've announced layoffs, as has IBM, Dell, Intel, AMD and many other tech behemoths.

In the 2001 dot-com bust lots of engineers lost their jobs. Many of those companies regretted the layoffs since they were not positioned to release cool new products when the economy recovered, as it always does. Perhaps those CEOs have learned to be more conservative when trimming development teams. But, of course, part of this crisis has been a meltdown in trust in CEOs.

What do you think? Are you feeling secure in your current job, and what do you think the prospects for engineers will be over the next year or two? The poll's question is the same as in October, to see if we're getting more concerned about our jobs.