While the view of the overall U.S. job market looks bleak, IT professionals have several options at their disposal.
A sudden and unexpected
burst in private-sector downsizing pushed the number of announced job cuts to a
16-month high of 66,414 in July, according the latest report on downsizing
activity released this week by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray &
Christmas. Similarly depressing figures regarding the U.S. job market have made
headlines for the past few months, but IT professionals can take comfort in
some more encouraging news.
The July surge in job cuts was
dominated by a flurry of large layoffs by a handful of private-sector
employers, the report noted, including Merck, Borders, Cisco Systems, Lockheed
Martin and Boston Scientific. The job cuts from these five companies alone
accounted for 38,100, or 57 percent, of the July total. Despite the increase in
job cuts last month, the pace of downsizing in 2011 remains slower than 2010,
but it is quickly gaining ground. So far this year, employers have
announced 312,220 cuts, 8 percent less than the 339,353 announced in the first
seven months of 2010.
"The spate of job cuts
should definitely raise some red flags, but it is important to keep the monthly
job-cut total in perspective. Yes, this is the largest job-cut month in over a
year, but the last year has seen some of the lowest monthly job-cut totals
since the late 1990s," said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray &
Christmas. "The 66,000 job cuts recorded last month are still well below the
105,000 job cuts per month averaged between January 2008 and December 2009."
Dice's August jobs report
found the number of available IT jobs as of the first of the month stood at
81,498, down from July's report, which found 82,867 available IT jobs. Of the
positions tallied in the report, 49,540 were full-time positions, 34,855 were
contract positions and 1,578 were part-time positions. The New York/New Jersey
metro area was the top region to find a job, with 9,378 jobs posted as of Aug.
1. That represents a 14 percent rise in available jobs in the region, compared
with the same period last year.
In a recent interview,
CompTIA president Todd Thibodeaux told Channel
that about 400,000 IT jobs are currently unfilled in the United
States, with top markets such as New York and Silicon Valley unable to fill the
job openings they have. While many of these positions are entry-level, certain
skill sets are commanding premium pay such as cyber-security experts, mobility
experts and systems integrators who can make one cloud application work well
with another, he said.
However, SurePayroll's Small
Business Scorecard for July 2011, an economic indicator that tracks the health
of the U.S. small business economy, found small business hiring is down in 18
metro areas. For July 2011, both hiring and paycheck levels were down slightly
from the previous month, resulting in year-to-date decreases of 2.4 percent and
0.3 percent, respectively.
In addition, optimism among
small-business owners plummeted from 67 percent in June to 47 percent in July.
For the last several months, Michael Alter, president and CEO of SurePayroll,
has said the small-business economy is in neutral and teetering on the brink of
improvement or downturn. Now, he believes "the economy is in reverse," adding
that the turmoil surrounding the U.S. debt-ceiling debate certainly played a role.