IT Employment Up Ever So Slightly

A bump in IT employment numbers for January is welcome news for IT workers, says one industry group. Silicon Valley, however, is still a region at risk due to many factors, such as California's financial woes, poor venture capital and capital investment, and a shrinking engineering base.

Technology workers saw a 0.3 percent increase in employment or roughly 12,900 more jobs in January, as reported by TechServe Alliance, which publishes a monthly technology outlook based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TechServe Alliance, formerly known as the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, is a 500-member trade organization.

In December, IT employment increased by 6,400 jobs-an improvement of 0.2 percent, according to TechServe Alliance.
For January, there were 3,823,700 employed technology workers, up from 3,821,000, with the dominant increase being in computer systems and design services. By comparison, in November 2008 there were over 4 million individuals in technology jobs-a decline of nearly 275,000 jobs in 14 months.
"[W]ith better-than-incremental growth in January ... signs are encouraging that businesses demand for IT professionals and services is growing," TechServe Alliance wrote in its monthly report.
In Silicon Valley, once considered a hotbed of technology jobs, tech worker wages have been on a downward trend since 2000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Feb 1. A more recent joint report from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Silicon Valley Network showed 90,000 jobs lost between the second quarter of 2008 and second quarter of 2009 and painted a more dire picture of employment in the region.
"When employers stop hiring, people look for other means of employment such as through temporary employment services or through consulting," the two organizations said in the Index of Silicon Valley 2010 (PDF) report. "In the San Jose Metro Area, for example, jobs in Employment Services have increased 23 percent since April 2009. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of consultants, reported as nonemployer firms, has grown by 25 percent."
The study warned, "Clearly, this is no time for complacency. While our region has enjoyed many advantages in the past, success in the future demands that we think beyond our prevailing assumptions, organize differently, draw upon still more ingenuity from our people and forge new collaborations in order to compete globally. Our vulnerabilities don't mean Silicon Valley's best days are behind it. But they do suggest we're a region at risk."
From the middle of 2009 when job openings were at the lowest levels of the year, job openings have been up over 20 percent, job board Dice said in its February report. Dice reported 3,435 job openings in Silicon Valley, 6,403 openings in Washington/Baltimore and 7,148 in New York/New Jersey Metro.