More technology and engineering workers got bonuses and pay raises last year than in 2009, but the pay hikes were tiny for professionals outside large corporations and Silicon Valley, according to a survey by Dice.com, part of online recruiter Dice Holdings Inc
The average U.S. information technology (IT) worker earned $79,384, adding less than $1,000 from the prior year. About half of IT workers got raises, up from a third in 2009.
Average salaries are much higher in California's Silicon Valley and in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, where they average $99,028 and $89,149 per year, according to Dice.com.
Salaries are lower in Atlanta and Philadelphia but rose at a faster pace there, so they may catch up with other major cities. Pay was down in Chicago and Los Angeles for IT workers.
The national unemployment rate for information workers, at 8.1 percent, is more than a point below the overall U.S. jobless rate of 9.4 percent. People who work in the sector have typically taken less time to find work in the recent jobs downturn, according to government data.
As the job market gradually improves for skilled professionals, more IT workers have the prospect of moving to another company, putting pressure on employers to retain staff. As a result, more are giving bonuses: 29 percent did so last year, versus 24 percent in 2009.
Companies are facing higher compensation costs, retention troubles, and shortages in certain skill-sets, said Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com.
The highest-paid jobs, those paying more than $100,000 a year, are in skilled areas such as developing programs for SAP AG's
Dice.com's survey included responses from about 20,000 technology professionals between late August and mid-November.
One of the best ways to boost income may be to work for a large employer, the survey noted.
Tech jobs at companies with 5,000 or more people pay almost $20,000 more per year, on average, than do similar jobs at small companies with fewer than 50 workers.
(Reporting by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Derek Caney and Richard Chang)