IT Professionals Labor Market Stagnating, Report Finds

Volatility remains the dominant trend right now for IT skills as well as jobs, a Foote Partners report finds.

U.S. employment numbers released by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a net gain of 4,400 IT-related jobs in November, for the sixth straight month of net job gains in IT labor segments. Five bellwether IT job segments in the BLS data showed a net gain of 45,100 jobs from June through November, with the Management and Technical Consulting Services segment accounting for 25,800 (57.2 percent) of these new jobs. This segment has posted gains in nine of the last 12 months of federal labor data.
The Management and Technical Consulting Services segment of the DOL/BLS employment report gained 3,700 jobs in November, the highest of any IT job category. The second highest net job gain occurred in the Computer Systems Design and Related Services jobs segment, which added 900 jobs in the month, contributing to a total of 17,000 new jobs over the last six months in the category. Jobs in the Data Processing, Hosted and Related Services segment remained unchanged after adding 500 jobs in October. The worst performing segments in November were two job segments in the Computer and Electronics Products industry category: Communications Equipment and Computer and Peripheral Equipment.
"The fact is, there's a tremendous amount of work to get done, and CIOs are under almost unbearable pressures to get it right and make it quick. Without the authorization to hire enough full-time workers to meet these demands, not to mention the time it takes to find workers with specialized skills, they're looking to the IT services industry more than ever before for help. Of course, this has been driving some very healthy jobs growth in this industry sector," said David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at IT analyst firm Foote Partners.

"I don't want to overemphasize CIOs' dependency on contractors, consultants and managed services. Indeed, they're also making key hires in many areas, but it's clear that demand for full-time workers outside the services sector in particular has not gained the kind of momentum that many analysts and pundits had been predicting this year."
Foote Partners' report noted that, based on the market analysis released last month concerning the IT employment market, volatility remains the dominant trend right now for IT skills as well as jobs. Foote has been seeing 28 percent to 38 percent volatility since early 2008 in its quarterly surveys of premium pay for certified and noncertified skills, which is defined as a percent of the 457 skills the company surveys that change in market value, up or down, every three months. The report noted typical quarterly volatility falls in the 14 percent to 19 percent range.
"Foote Partners has not changed its prediction from one year ago that there would not be a meaningful IT jobs recovery in 2010 and well into 2011, and then some," noted Foote. "Moreover, we remain convinced that the length of the tail on this staffing lag will be much longer than previous economic recoveries. A lot of the jobs lost during this recession are not coming back because employers have changed their human capital investment models and practices. Instead of focusing on jobs, the accent is on skills acquisition. These skills can be acquired by buying them, renting or simply letting someone else do the job for you. Clearly it's the last two approaches that are taking precedence right now."