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IT jobs outlook modest for 2011

Patrick Thibodeau | Dec. 8, 2010
Perhaps the best thing that will be said about 2010 and IT hiring is that large layoffs have tapered off and the overall trend seems to favor hiring.

"We know that there are pockets of IT spending all over the companies," Foote said.

But in his labor market analysis, Foote said he saw IT managers as more focused on filling specific skill needs whether through hiring full-time or part-time employees, consultants or contractors. "Instead of focusing on jobs, the accent is on skills acquisition," he said.

There has never been one absolute source for determining what is happening in the IT labor market. Most analyst use federal labor data, but the government reports can be examined in different ways. TechServe Alliance, for instance, last month said there were only 600 IT jobs gathered; Foote's analysis showed 4,400 IT-related jobs that month.

Two years ago, at its peak, the IT labor market was counted at about 4 million workers by TechServe; in November of this year it was at 3.9 million, with a year to year gain of about 2.5%.

Other indicators are more anecdotal. For instance,, an IT jobs listing board, has seen a big gain in IT jobs. In November 2009, it had about 52,000 jobs, on Tuesday it had 72,700 tech jobs listed.

A more colorful source about the state of the labor market is The Federal Reserve Board's Beige Book. In it, officials at various Fed district offices talk with people industry to glean some insight. It takes these reports and shares what was learned anonymously.

In San Francisco, sales are expanding for providers of technology services, "prompted in part by a focus on efficiency-enhancing software investments in most sectors of the economy," reported the Fed.

In Minneapolis, an IT consulting firm "expects to double its workforce over the next year due to unexpectedly robust demand." But the Minneapolis district also reported as well that "a contact in the information technology sector," said "he expects continued depressed wage levels in software development."

In Boston, the Fed reported, "Increased activity has led most respondents to continue raising their headcounts. One contact is adding positions across the board, reporting a 10% increase in staff year-to-date; another, by contrast, reports a modest reduction, with a number of customer service and information technology positions being sent overseas."


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