U.S. employment numbers released last week by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found despite continued volatility in many IT employment segments, the largest net monthly job gain in IT-related jobs recorded since the Wall Street financial crisis was realized in April, IT labor market research firm Foote Partners reported. A net gain of 8,800 such jobs represented a 15,600-job swing following a brief March 2010 setback in which 6,800 jobs were lost overall in the five bellwether IT job segments monitored in the BLS data.
David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote, said the jobs expansion is what had been predicted for 2010 in the company’s November analysis, but cautioned there is a level of unpredictability in the market at present, which he called “somewhat unique” in his experiences monitoring IT labor markets.
“On the one hand there is stabilization occurring in IT employment and salaries, but on the other hand, pay and demand for specific skills continue to swing wildly up and down within windows as short as three months,” he said. “There are clearly other factors than the recession at work here.”
Foote claimed the market will never again return to the type of labor market IT professionals enjoyed prior to the global financial crisis. In his view, however, that might not be so bad. “In fact, this economic recession is probably the best thing that ever happened to IT organizations, who have to become more relevant to the enterprise by transforming themselves into agile, flexible, nimble companies,” he said. “Senior business executives understand technology is one of the keys to gaining and maintaining competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
In light of Foote’s comments, small to medium-size businesses (SMBs), while still struggling amidst an uncertain economic recovery, may find their long-term stabilization efforts on course: According to a recent study released by CompTIA, a significant majority of U.S. SMBs (80 percent) are looking for technology solutions that “deliver immediate payback in terms of minimum disruption of business continuity and seamless integration with existing solutions.”
The study, fielded via an online survey of more than 400 U.S. SMB executives in February 2010, reached businesses in vertical markets including manufacturing, finance and insurance, health care, government, and professional services. The CompTIA report also found SMBs are considering IT solutions including virtualization (interest is strongest in the area of server virtualization, where 37 percent of SMBs plan to adopt over the next 12 months) and unified communications; 25 percent of SMBs expect to adopt a VOIP (voice-over-IP) solution this year.