Pathways to Adjustment: The Case of Information Technology Workers

One long-standing hypothesis about science and engineering labor markets is that the supply of highly skilled workers is likely to be inelastic in the short run. We consider the market for computer scientists and electrical engineers (IT workers) and the evolution of wages and employment through two periods of increased demand. Relative to the boom of the 1970s, the demand shock in the 1990s generated relatively greater changes in employment and smaller changes in wages. The growth in the pool of skilled workers abroad, combined with increased immigration in high-skill fields, is central to this story.