Volatility Roiling IT Job Market, Report Finds

The IT sector continues to wrangle with an uneven job market recovery, as the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a net job loss in May, according to Foote Partners.

U.S. employment numbers released Friday by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a net loss of 100 IT-related jobs in May following April's 8,800 overall job gain.

With job numbers in five bellwether IT job segments in the BLS also in negative territory in March-following three straight months of gains (December 2009/January-February 2010)-research firm Foote Partners warned it is looking like volatility will define the U.S. IT job market for months to come.
Follow net gains of 1,100 and 1,000 jobs, respectively, in March and April and a total of 16,800 new jobs from September to December 2009 in the Management and Technical Consulting Services segment, a net loss of 700 jobs were reported for last month. Moreover, 8,300 jobs were lost in January and February.

Foote noted that further indication of volatility in IT services jobs can be found in the Computer Systems Design/Related Services category: Following a total gain of 24,000 jobs from October 2009 to February 2010, net losses of 5,800 jobs in March and 300 jobs in May book-ended a brief rally of 7,300 jobs in April.
"Volatility is the name of the game for IT skills as well, not just jobs,"
said David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners. "We're seeing 30 percent to 40 percent volatility in our surveys of premium pay for certified and noncertified skills, which is defined as the percent of the 438 skills we survey that change in value-up or down-every three months. And that's unprecedented in our tracking going back to 1998. Typically it is in the 14 percent to 19 percent range."
Foote said the high volatility present in certified and noncertified IT skills pay and demand, and also in jobs, signals that employers continue to be under pressure to strike a balance between market pressures and labor force costs well into our third straight year of economic downturn. "Ironically, what's causing these volatility swings have less to do with the recession than with employers accelerating transitions to new, more flexible staffing models," he said. "Employers have been struggling with a very deliberate IT workforce transformation for years; resistance to this level of organizational change is natural. The recession has been successful in breaking down a certain amount of this resistance."