It's Who You Are and What You Do: Explaining the IT Industry Wage Premium
Jason DeBacker, Julie Hotchkiss, Melinda Pitts, and John Robertson
Economic Review, Vol. 90, No. 3, 2005
The information technology (IT) boom dramatically boosted the rapid growth of the U.S. economy during the 1990s, contributing 1.4 percentage points of the 4.6 percent national average real gross domestic product growth from 1996 to 2000. As the IT boom went bust in 2001, however, the IT sector's influence on the economy dwindled.
But a lingering effect of the IT boom may still be apparent in the wages of IT workers. This article explores the extent to which variations in wages between IT-producing and non-IT industries can be accounted for by differences in wages paid to IT-related occupations.
Using data for 1996 to 2002 from the Current Population Survey's Earner Study, the authors study a sample of more than 845,000 U.S. workers aged eighteen to sixty-four. The sample is categorized according to individuals' primary job and is divided into nine industry groups—three IT-related and six non-IT-related.
The analysis shows that the average wage of IT occupations is greater than for non-IT occupations irrespective of industry. Individual worker characteristics such as years of education may account for some of this wage differential. But even after such characteristics and occupational differences are controlled for, workers in IT-producing industries still enjoy a wage premium over workers in other sectors.