In the war between perception and reality, perception appears to have the edge right now.
IT worker confidence in the second quarter of 2010 has risen 6.6 points to 58.2 despite rocky economic indicators all around, according to a survey by Harris Interactive that was sponsored and published by staffing company Technisource.
Confidence is measured in three areas in this quarterly study: strength of the economy, ability to find a new job and availability of jobs. Thirty-eight percent of tech workers polled said they believe the economy is getting stronger, 41 percent believe the economy is flat and 20 percent believe it is weakening.
"As the recovery lumbers forward slowly, we are seeing technology deployments in new areas that provide increased performance, such as VOIP [voice over IP] and Windows 7," Michael Winwood, president of Technisource, said in a July 20 statement. "With these long-needed new deployments, companies are also making new investments in staff-many looking to contingent staffing as a more strategic approach to the recovery at this point."
Only 17 percent of tech workers polled said they believe there are more jobs available now, with almost 50 percent believing there are fewer jobs. The other 34 percent are "neutral." The most surprising number in this entire study is the 54 percent of tech workers who are confident in their ability to get a new job. Only a quarter of those surveyed are not confident in this category.
"During the recession many companies had to initiate hiring freezes, postpone new technology implementations and simply 'do more with less,'" Winwood said. "The marked increase in confidence this quarter tells us that technology workers may be in a more solid position for the economic recovery, compared to other industries."
Perhaps so, but other indicators show a very cautious economic vibe in the United States despite some economic growth in 2010. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke spoke to Congress July 21 and described a jobs situation that is still very much hurting.
"In June, U.S. factory output fell 0.4 percent, the most in a year, housing starts declined to the lowest level in eight months and private employers added fewer workers to payrolls than economists forecast," Bloomberg reported on the state of the economy and Bernanke's remarks. "The average growth in private payrolls of 100,000 a month so far this year is 'insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially,' and it will probably take a 'significant amount of time' to restore the almost 8.5 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009, Bernanke said."
Despite the caution and gloom of many economists, Forrester Research predicts growth in IT spending 2010. A July 21 report forecast IT spending for the year of $753 billion, which would be a 9.9 percent increase from 2009.
"The most likely alternative to our forecast remains slower growth than we assume in the U.S., as continued slow growth in employment saps consumer spending and the strong dollar and weak European economy hurts U.S. exports," Forrester wrote. "That scenario, which we put at a 25 percent probability, would cause growth in both the U.S. and global tech markets to slow to the 5 percent to 7 percent range."