February 28, 2005, 12:00 AM

Retail/e-commerce tech salaries take another hit

Average salaries for technology professionals in retail/e-commerce/mail order took a dive in 2004 to $55,600 from $61,500, a 10% decrease, reports the 2004 Annual Salary Survey from Dice Inc.

After a hopeful sign that tech salaries in retail were recovering to their 2001 high, average salaries for technology professionals in the retail/e-commerce/mail order sector took a dive in 2004 to $55,600 from $61,500, a 10% decrease, reports the 2004 Annual Salary Survey from Dice Inc., a job board for technology, engineering and security-cleared professionals.

In 2003, retail tech salaries had rebounded from recession-era average salaries, rising to $61,500 from $59,300 the year before, nearly back to 2001’s $61,600.

Retail/e-commerce average salaries in 2004 were 18% lower than the U.S. average of $67,800. The gap in 2003 was 12% when the U.S. average was $69,600. The U.S. average tech salary was down 2.9% in 2004 from 2003. Dice says the decline was the steepest since before 2001 and reports that declines were led by a steep decline in the Internet services sector, where salaries were down 9.8%, and in computer software, down 5.7%.

“The lower averages reflect a turnaround in the job market,” says Scot Melland, president and CEO of Dice. “As companies begin to hire again, they are approaching their staffing needs more conservatively and not offering the same high salaries they once were.” Melland says companies are willing to hire less experienced workers at the same time that experienced workers who had been laid off are willing to accept lower salaries.

Melland adds that the pool of retail/e-commerce companies in the survey is small but that Dice noticed two definite trends: senior IT management salaries were up 7.3% from the year before and programmer/analyst salaries were up 2%.

Highest average tech salary in 2004 went to professionals in banking/finance/insurance who earned $77,700. Dice surveyed more than 23,000 technology professionals.

Dice reported an increase in salaries in non-traditional technology cities, such as Washington D.C., Atlanta and the Southern California area. Despite salary declines in 2004, Silicon Valley and New York remained the top two paying markets for technology workers in the United States with average salaries of $84,200 and $76,500.

At 13%, retail was also one of the sectors with the biggest gap between men’s and women’s salaries, Dice reported.

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