Computer systems design leads IT tech sector job growth, while data processing jobs post a decline in January.
There was a net gain of 11,800 IT-related jobs in January-the eighth
straight month of positive job growth in IT labor segments in federal employment
data-according to employment numbers released Friday by the Department of Labor's
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Five bellwether IT job segments in BLS
data had a net gain of 74,200 jobs in the last 12 months. Leading all segments in
gains were management and technical consulting services and computer systems
design and related services segments, which together accounted for nearly 95
percent of all new jobs created.
The worst performing segment was data processing, hosting and related
services, which saw a decline of 1,900 jobs in January. In the last 12 months,
there was a net loss of 6,600 jobs in this segment, 1,700 in the past two
months alone, according to the report.
"This may seem pretty anemic for a specialized group of workers when
you consider that the economy has added 827,000 jobs overall in the U.S.
since March 2010," noted David Foote, CEO
at IT analyst firm Foote Partners, which publishes proprietary national labor
trend research. "But you have to understand that the government has
defined 'IT professional' in the same narrow way for several decades: Just 21 job
titles exist in the 2010 - 2011 edition of the Department of Labor's
Occupational Outlook Handbook, and they're all traditional technical
infrastructure jobs in systems analysis, programming, data communications and
networks, tech support, and database administration."
Two IT job segments in the computer and electronic products industry
category saw an increase in jobs in January 2011: communications equipment
(+800 jobs) and computer and peripheral equipment (+700 jobs). In the past 12 months
these segments have had net job gains of 6,500 and 3,900, respectively.
"Hiring of pure play tech workers is indeed sluggish and happening
primarily in the services industries. But the truth is that the role of
technology in the enterprise is now so pervasive that managing it is no longer
entrusted to one group but instead split among every department, function, line
of business and product group," Foote explained. "The job of each one
of these entities is to determine how to make the best use of information
technology for producing revenues and profitability, building market share,
ensuring satisfied customers, controlling costs, innovating solutions, and
generally to stay competitive in their industries."
Overall, the unemployment rate in the United
States fell to 9 percent from 9.4 percent in
December, as 36,000 jobs were added to payrolls, well below the 200,000 jobs
needed to sustain growth in the economy by many economists' views. The share of
the population over 16 years old either working or looking for work fell to
64.2 percent in January, the lowest level since 1984.
"Technology and business skills have in effect collapsed into each
other, creating legions of what our firm refers to generically as hybrid
IT/business professionals," Foote said. "These hybrid jobs can be
found throughout the enterprise. We've been identifying and tracking them since
1995 and also surveying their salaries."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.