Unemployment is a natural phenomenon in a free-market economy. Labor markets expand and contract based on macroeconomic factors, and the unemployment rate increases when there is limited demand for labor and decreases when there is great demand for labor. Each occupation has its own unemployment rate, and all occupations are taken in a weighted average to determine the overall unemployment rate. Engineers, including electrical engineers (EE), are historically in great demand, so they usually have a lower unemployment rate than most other professions.
Electrical Engineer Employment Statistics
More than 160,500 individuals were employed as EEs in the U.S. in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The largest employer of electrical engineers is the architectural, engineering and related services industry, which employed 36,470 EEs in 2012. The navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing industry was second, employing 14,820 EEs, and the electric power generation, transmission and distribution was third, employing 14,780 EEs.
Electrical Engineer Job Prospects
Job prospects are relatively poor for electrical engineers. The BLS is only projecting six percent employment growth for the occupation between 2010 and 2020, less than half the 14 percent growth projected across all occupations. the two main factors involved are the very slow growth of many of the manufacturing sectors in which EEs are typically employed, and the continuing trend toward outsourcing or offshoring engineering work.
Electrical Engineer Pay
The BLS reports that EEs earned a median salary of $87,920 in 2012, and the top ten percent of EEs earned a median salary of at least $136,690. Those employed in the oil and gas extraction industry came in at the top of the EE pay scale, making an average salary of $106,780 in 2012, while those in the electrical equipment manufacturing sector came in towards the bottom with with an average salary of $81,840.
Electrical Engineer Unemployment
The BLS reported that engineers as a whole only had a 1.6 percent unemployment rate in 2006, but the rate steadily increased over the next few years as the economy nosedived, and hit 5.9% in 2011. The unemployment rate for electrical engineers in 2011 was 3.4 percent, compared to an 8.9 percent unemployment rate across all professions.
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