Low Unemployment Rate for IT Pros Falls Further

Susan Hall

While the overall unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, unemployment for technology professionals declined even more. The unemployment rate for IT pros dropped to 3.3 percent for the third quarter, compared to 4.2 percent in the quarter a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Dice.com report points to six professions in particular in which unemployment declined. Their rates:

  • Software developers – 2.3 percent
  • Web developers – 4.3 percent
  • Database administrators  – 3.1 percent
  • Computer and information systems managers – 2.2 percent
  • Computer support specialists – 6 percent
  • Network and systems administrators – 1.7 percent

The rate in other skill sets:

  • Programmers – 5.3 percent
  • Network architects – 4 percent
  • Computer systems analysts – 3.8 percent

It also pointed to the tenth consecutive quarter of job creation for technical consultants, a sector that has added 56,000 jobs this year.

"Ten straight quarters of job gains for technology consultants is no small feat. On-demand talent continues to be a dominant theme in this recovery,” said Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com and president of Dice Labs. (Full disclosure: I write for Dice, too.)

People remain reluctant to switch jobs, though, according to the numbers. In the first two months of the third quarter, an average of 382,000 employees in professional and business services quit their jobs. That compares with an average of 412,000 in the second quarter and a 10-year average of 408,000.

It says fewer folks are seeing the grass greener elsewhere:

When professionals think ‘grass is grass,’ companies have to promote what makes their company unique to attract high-quality candidates.

That could mean selling candidates on the career opportunity that the job offers. As El Paso’s Miguel Gamio Jr., director of the city's Information Technology Department, put it, talking about the city’s PeopleSoft implementation, its Wi-Fi initiatives and its citywide Cisco VoIP deployment:


Any one of these, I refer to them as decade projects. These are projects that if you have them on your resume, they're relatively career-defining. If you're involved in a multimillion-dollar PeopleSoft reimplementation, that's significant on your resume.

As defense contractor B&W Pantex, with headquarters in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo, found out, sometimes recruiting specialized talent in a remote area calls for extreme creativity.

For instance, it offers students up to $30,000 to pay for college, with contracts requiring they work two months for every month of tuition received.



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Oct 17, 2012 1:46 PM hoapres hoapres  says:
Incorrect. BLS does not count those "no longer attached to the IT workforce". This includes IT professionals now working at Walmart or have given up looking for work. Not to mention that you can define an IT professional to be one currently employed in IT. Making that definition gives you an unemployment rate for IT professionals as ZERO. The TRUE unemployment rate for IT professionals is just as bad as for almost everybody else. Reply
Oct 18, 2012 7:31 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:
This is great news. Any time you see the overall rate go down it is a sign that things are heading in a positive direction. That said, the unemployment rate doesn't paint a complete picture because it excludes the long-term unemployed, those who have taken up non-skilled or lesser-skilled jobs because they are unable to regain jobs in this profession. We need to really do more than scratch the surface with a measure of who is working and who isn't. Let's start focusing on those who are working. Since at least the year 2000, pay in IT has not maintained pace with inflation. Most IT workers are classified as exempt from overtime pay and are on a salary (why I became a consultant - I like to work hard and get paid when I work harder). Industry lobbyists argued years ago that we are managers - not of people but managers of systems. I'm the most abusive boss ever, because I like to work my systems 24/7. They never talk back. Sometimes they die (BSOD) but I revive them and put them back to work. I can't wait until "system personhood". If corporations are people, why not computer systems? Then everyone can enjoy some overtime pay ;-) Systems United vs USA? Reply
Oct 18, 2012 5:01 PM hoapres hoapres  says: in response to R. Lawson
IT unemployment is actually going UP. The ONLY reason the rate is going DOWN is the number of people "attached" to IT has gone DOWN. If I as an IT professional end up working at Walmart then I am no longer considered unemployed. Reply
Oct 23, 2012 7:16 PM Jay Jay  says: in response to hoapres
Hoapres, I haven't seen a single respectable article published supporting what you say. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Reply
Oct 27, 2012 12:49 AM hoapres hoapres  says: in response to Jay
You need to read the BLS report on IT employment. The BLS clearly defines the number of people employed in IT. If you look at the claimed growth in IT for the past 12 years then that is approximately the same number of H1Bs granted in the same time period. Of course, the H1B is another matter all together. Reply

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