The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows a small increase in the number of employed IT professionals — and prospects are mixed.
“According to BLS there were 5,700 more IT professionals employed in February than in January," said Victor Janulaitis, CEO of international consulting firm Janco Associates. "However, much of the most recent growth has been in the government sector, and with 'sequester' there could be a reduction in the number of those jobs. On the downside, the BLS has adjusted the number of jobs that were added in January from 12,500 to 9,800."
"When we looked at the number of IT pros employed and compared that with our own independent survey of 106 CIOs in North America, we can only conclude that the hiring freezes of 2008 through 2012 are slowly easing," said Janulaitis. "We are seeing greater demand for mid-level managers and technologist who can address demands placed on CIOs for more ‘Web-enabled’ applications" and security professionals.
According to Janco, CIOs are focusing on the near-term demands to hire proven IT professionals and consultants/contractors. A number of CIOs interviewed by the firm have plans in place for more robust hiring in the summer and fall.
"However, not all of the news is good," said Janulaitis. "Janco continues to be concerned that the data shows the labor market participation rate remains at record low levels. Also with 'sequester' there is a possibility that the recovery will falter and job growth could slow. The macro trend for labor participation since 2008 still is down by 1.5 percent. That translates to approximately 4 million people who are excluded from the labor force calculation."
"The year-to-year comparison of workforce participation shows how deep a hole we are in," he added. "Until those percentages turn around, the overall recovery will be weak at best. If that is the case, then there is a strong possibility that IT demand will be dampened, and overall IT job market size could fall back to the levels of 2010 and 2011."
In a continuing survey of CIOs, Janco has found that many are cautious but feel that overall hiring will improve in 2013.
“In telephone interviews in late January of 97 U.S.-based CIOs we found that many are looking to a more interesting future with sequester, tax increases, unsure economic future and unstable world political situation," said Janulaitis. "CIOs continue to closely manage their overall full-time equivalent (FTE) head counts level and adding staff for critical new developments.
"A few CIOs in selected areas like the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston are bullish," he concluded. "CIOs are looking to add back management levels that were eliminated in the recession. In addition, CIOs are looking for particular sets of skills to meet the demands of mobile computing and towards implementation processes which will support users to use their own personal devices — BYOD."