Black IT Employment Reaches a Post-Internet-Bust High

By Eric Chabrow  |  Posted 01-25-2008

Employment among African-American IT professionals rose by 10.3 percent in 2007, reaching levels not seen since the Internet boom. Still, the percentage of blacks among all employed IT workers is lower than it was at the beginning of the decade.

African Americans held 267,000 IT managerial and staff jobs in the United States last year, representing 7.1 percent of employed business-technology pros, according to a CIO Insight analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Black IT employment peaked in 2001 at 296,000. That's nearly 9.8 percent, or 29,000 jobs, higher than last year's employment statistic. IT employment among blacks reached a decade low of 229,000 in 2002, the year following the 2001 recession and the dot-com bubble burst.

As a comparison, the number of employed IT pros with Asian ancestry soared last year to 638,000, a rise of 98,000, or 18.1 percent. Asians represented 17 percent of employed business technologist.

At the beginning of the decade, Asians embodied 12.4 percent of employed IT managers and workers. Blacks represented 8.4 percent and whites 78.6 percent of all IT pros in 2000.

The proportion of white IT pros has steadily decreased since 2002 to 74.3 percent last year, it's the lowest percentage ever. That comes despite an increase in white IT employment, which grew by 177,000, or 6.8 percent, to 2,791,000 in 2007.

Why are fewer African Americans employed in IT today than at the beginning of the decade? In an interview with CIO Insight last summer, Gina Billings, president of the National Black Data Processing Association, blames globalization, in which many American IT workers lost their jobs this decade as more IT work is outsourced overseas. African-Americans, who proportionally joined the profession later than their white colleagues, got caught in the ritual of last hired, first fired. Those experienced pros laid off, she says, entered other fields, discouraged about job prospects within IT.