IT Job Market Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.5 Percent

In the current market, IT pros not only have the power to negotiate, they have the power to be choosy, a Dice report on the IT job market indicates.

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In the fourth quarter of 2014, the tech unemployment rate averaged 2.5 percent, slightly below the third-quarter figure of 2.7 percent, and the lowest rate recorded since 2008, according to online IT jobs portal Dice's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The average annual tech unemployment rate came in at 2.7 percent, a significant decline from the average tech unemployment rate of 3.6 percent in 2013.

Tech consulting added 26,500 jobs in the fourth quarter and 72,300 jobs annually. Both of these figures represent an uptick from 2013, which saw 19,700 new positions created in the final quarter and 62,300 jobs for the year.

"What the numbers suggest is that demand for tech professionals continues to be high and that companies are eager to hire," Shravan Goli, president of Dice, told eWEEK. "Moving forward, what will be interesting to see is what skills will continue to be popular, what skills will grow this year and what tactics companies will use to lure candidates."

Data processing, hosting and related services saw a decline in jobs added in the fourth quarter with 700 jobs lost. Annually the category added 5,300 positions, lower than 2013 by 1,900 jobs.

According to the Dice report, in 2014, unemployment rates for Web developers, computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, programmers, network and systems administrators, software developers, computer & information systems managers, data administrators and network architects all dropped.

It also proved to be a particularly good year for programmers, computer & information systems managers, and computer support specialists, whose unemployment rates were nearly cut in half from 2013.

"In the current market, tech professionals not only have the power to negotiate, they have the power to be choosy," Goli said. "With companies planning to boost their hiring plans in 2015, according to Dice's latest hiring survey, tech candidates will have a greater number of companies to choose from. With that being said, it's really up to companies to get aggressive and sell themselves in order to land top tech talent."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 473,500 professionals on average in the professional and business services category voluntarily quit their positions in the first two months of the fourth quarter—the latest data available.

This represents a slight downturn from the 487,500 professionals who chose to leave their positions this time last year but above the 10-year average of 415,000.

"Today, it's hard for many companies to find top tech talent. The market is very competitive. What I would suggest to companies in search of tech professionals is to really think outside the box, both in regards to recruitment tactics and company perks," Goli said. "From a recruitment perspective, have you reached out to your professional network? Have you considered temp-to-hire positions? Have you utilized social networking channels?"

These are all things to think about when companies feel like they have hit a hiring wall, and in regard to company perks, businesses need to think about what they can do to make the company stand out, he said.

"Nowadays, many perks that used to be considered 'unique' are standard. You need to make clear what separates you from other firms," Goli said. "From a compensation standpoint, put your best offer forward when you are negotiating with a candidate. Dice's latest hiring survey found more candidates are rejecting offers, with 29 percent of hiring managers seeing rebuffs, compared to 26 percent in June 2014 and November 2013. So, lay all of your cards out on the table in the negotiation process."