IT Execs Dimming Confidence in Economic Recovery Hurts Hiring

More than half of IT firms say they remain understaffed by at least 5 percent because theyre afraid to hire more workers in an uncertain economy, according to the latest IT Industry Business Confidence Index from CompTIA.

The index fell by 1 point to 51.9 on a 100-point scale, and while that may not seem significant, CompTIA said the decline shows economic malaise has clearly set in.” In fact, the drop marks the third consecutive one this year. On top of that, IT executives predicted just a 1.9-point gain for the Index in the first quarter of 2012. CompTIAs Tim Herbert said that modest gain is lower than previous outlooks.

Its yet another sign of dimming confidence in a short-term fix to a shaky world economy,” he said.

Still, those respondents said they are more confident in the IT industry than in the economy as a whole. For CompTIA, though, thats not encouraging news.

“No industry operates in a vacuum, so even the relatively strong IT industry has felt the pain of global economic weakness,” Herbert said.

As a result of the sour economic forecast, IT executives told CompTIA they expect no change in spending plans. Thats worrisome, Herbert said.

“Multiply this behavior across every industry sector and economic pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Herbert said. “Firms refrain from spending, which signals to vendors a slowdown, which causes spending restraint in other areas. No one wants to move first. This vicious cycle ripples throughout the economy.”

The cycle further impacts the workforce. To wit, nearly one-third of the 427 respondents, or 32 percent, told CompTIA they have postponed or canceled projects due to staffing shortages. IT companies also are putting more pressure on their employees. For example, 55 percent of IT firms now require workers to multitask more, CompTIA found. And 45 percent require salaried workers to put in more hours.

Among the types of staff IT firms plan to hire or would like to hire, 56 percent of surveyed firms said programmers and application developers; 43 percent, help desk and support personnel; 41 percent, project managers; and 40 percent, sales staff.

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