IT Unemployment Rate Remains Steady, Better Than National Average

The unemployment rate for IT pros during the second quarter of 2012 averaged 3.6 percent. That's unchanged from last year, but better than the national average, according to Dice.

Despite worries over the global economy and continued corporate belt-tightening, the unemployment rate for IT professionals is holding steady. The second-quarter 2012 jobless rate for tech pros remained unchanged from a year earlier, at 3.6 percent, according to a recent report from Dice.

The level of IT unemployment, though much lower than the national average, leaves much room for improvement, an executive at the IT career Website said.

The IT unemployment rate has remained below 4.5 percent for the past five quarters, according to Dice, which based its calculations on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in July. That's significantly below the national average unemployment rate, which has been above 8 percent during that same period.

Dice does not predict employment or unemployment but gains insight from activity on its site, said Dice Managing Director Alice Hill.

"The number of job postings on the site has been flat since about February, although still up 3 percent year-over-year in July," Hill wrote in an email.

The number of resumes being viewed by hiring managers is still positive in the second quarter of 2012 when compared with the year-over-year rate, Hill wrote.

"This makes us conclude that we have a good market, but not a great market, which is reflective of a 3.6% unemployment rate," Hill added.

In the best quarter of the last recovery, Hill said, the unemployment rate for IT professionals "started with a 1," and there was a 13-quarter span when the rate was 2.6 percent or lower.

In its unemployment analysis, Dice found that Web developers, network architects, computer systems analysts, software developers, network and systems administrators, and programmers saw their second-quarter unemployment rates improve from the first quarter.

On the downside, the jobless rate rose for database administrators and customer support specialists.

Concerns about the global economy, particularly the debt crisis in Western Europe, and corporate cutbacks have led companies to be cautious about their headcounts.

Job hunters are also concerned. Those with good positions are holding onto them.

In a Dice hiring study released in June, just 37 percent of corporate hiring managers said the number of voluntary departures increased in their IT departments so far this year.

"Even when good positions are available, tech pros are thinking twice about new opportunities," according to Dice. "This creates an opportunity for technology managers-if a key employee quits-counteroffers may just resonate in today's uncertain job market."

Dice's June hiring survey found that 73 percent of IT-focused recruiters and hiring managers expect companies to add more tech staff in the second half of 2012, of which just 18 percent expect substantially more hiring in the second half of this year while 55 said they anticipate slightly more hiring in the second half. In that study, 27 percent said they expect no hiring during that period.

Similar caution is also evident in a study conducted in April by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG. The poll of C-level and senior executives at technology companies showed that of the 57 percent of tech executives who expect their firms to expand their staffs this year, 42 percent said they anticipate a 1 to 6 percent increase while only 15 percent said they anticipate an increase of 7 percent or more.