Consulting, Contracting Job Gains Found in Labor Data

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-12-07

It hasn't been a good year for IT jobs, but there are some segments of IT faring better than others, shows analysis of recently released government data crunched by Foote Partners, an IT research firm based in Florida.

Net gains in the five category segments of IT tracked by the BLS show 11,200 jobs added in September, October and November 2009.

"This is a good news, bad news report," observes David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners. "On the one hand, the IT services industry can look forward to increasing demand for their services. We will see hiring of technical and management specialists picking up further in the first quarter of 2010. But on the other hand, companies offering DP and hosting services are still feeling pain, as are computer, peripherals and communications manufacturers."

"IT Technical and Consulting Services" has seen the largest gains in 2009 with an added 13,600 jobs through November. This is not surprising to see given the volume of layoffs since late 2008 and the ease with which many IT skills can be adapted for contract and other consulting services. Many have had little choice but to adapt and become either their own IT contracting company or partner up with peers.

"Computer System Design and Related Services" has also seen 5,800 jobs added in October and November 2009, though had losses of 7,900 for the year.

"Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services" has lost 6,700 jobs in 2009 with 1,800 of them coming in the last few months.

"What this means is that despite the recent GDP upturn and recovering stock prices as we enter our nation's third straight year of economic instability, the length of the tail on the traditional staffing lag will be much longer than in previous recoveries," said Foote in a statement.

Foote is cautious about predicting robust hiring in the first few quarters:

"Hiring will not pick up noticeably for the IT industry as a whole until late next year, and more likely 2011. Volatility will continue to punctuate staffing and pay levels, and will be focused of specific skill specializations as employers struggle to recalibrate their IT work forces by striking the right balance between costs, agility and intense competitive market pressures---which is a moving target, of course."

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