The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA) asked members of Congress to address the unemployment situation for engineers and other high-tech professionals.

The unemployment rate for all engineers increased from 3.6% in the first quarter of 2002 to 4.0% in the second quarter, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate for electrical and electronics engineers rose from 4.1% to 4.8%. Overall unemployment fell from 5.9% to 5.4%.

“The IEEE-USA is concerned that the most recent increase in engineering unemployment is not a short term or cyclical phenomenon, but represents a more fundamental shift in engineering utilization that has potentially negative impacts for our nation,” said IEEE-USA President LeEarl Bryant.

IEEE-USA is also asking Congress to investigate the impacts of increased hiring of non-U.S. guest workers, the greater use of temporary workers and the outsourcing of engineering work overseas as causes of the unemployment problem, in addition to the economic downturn.

“It is time for Congress to take a closer look at the problem of engineering unemployment and to eliminate the government subsidies and incentives that encourage corporate management to treat U.S. engineers as a disposable labor commodity rather than an essential investment in our nation's future,” Bryant said.