US Government Shutdown's Early Effect on IT Jobs Remains Hazy
NEWS ANALYSIS: Although IT employment remains healthy, federal cutbacks make the outlook for tech jobs less certain.Unknown factors surrounding the shutdown of the federal government starting Oct. 1 have cast a cloud of uncertainty around IT employment—which has largely been a pocket of strength in the overall U.S. jobs market. Employment experts and analysts say the long-term effects of a shutdown and other political jockeying for position, including economic implications related to the U.S. debt ceiling, could be significant although it's difficult to pin specific numbers on the impact. They say it depends on how long the shutdown lasts and what happens afterward in the political negotiations. "Any time there is a slowdown in the adoption of IT or the completion of contracts, there is bound to be an impact," Elizabeth Hyman, CompTIA vice president for public advocacy, told eWEEK. "It's not just [the effects on] furloughed federal employees but agencies planning to move on projects. It throws a wrench in planning. What happens today will affect what happens down the road." Yet tech employment has grown steadily in recent years, and the jobless rate among IT professionals remains low. For some time, the unemployment rate for tech professionals—at 3.3 percent in August—has been consistently below this country's total jobless rate, which was 7.3 percent that month, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.
Still, IT industry watchers have been monitoring the effects of reduced government spending for months. Although the U.S. economy did not fall off a fiscal cliff following the government sequestration—the combination of federal tax increases and spending cuts that took effect March 1—IT jobs have been affected as some government projects have been deferred, reduced or shortened.