As if we needed any more evidence that tech is a good place to be in this economy, a year-end report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the IT unemployment rate for 2011 at 3.7 percent, down from 5.3 percent in 2010. In December, the unemployment rate for the overall economy slid to 8.5 percent from 8.6 percent in November, the first time it had dropped below 9 percent in quite some time.
An estimated 83,000 IT jobs were created in 2011, according to the Current Population Survey data, based on monthly surveys of U.S. households throughout the year. InformationWeek reports that IT employment is close to pre-recession levels. About 3.98 million people are employed in 12 IT-related job categories last year, compared with 4 million in 2008.
The article raises some concern about 2012 hiring, though. While job sites Robert Half Technology and Dice project robust IT hiring, according to InformationWeek's survey, conducted in October 2011, 25 percent of companies expect to expand their IT staffs this year and 36 percent will fill open positions, but 30 percent predict a continued hiring freeze and 9 percent are cutting staff.
In an evaluation of the December jobs report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor, analyst firm Foote Partners cites a net gain in two IT-related categories: management and technical consulting services along with computer systems design and related services. It notes a 19-month growth trend for these categories, yet it's a drop from November's 9,600 net gain in those categories and the 12-month average of 10,592.
Meanwhile, two other categories - telecommunications (down 41,800 jobs in 2011), along with data processing, hosting and related services (down 24,300) - continue their losses, though at a slower rate than in previous months.
Says CEO David Foote, who contends that many IT-related jobs aren't counted in the current categories, specifically what he calls IT-business "hybrids":
It's a very robust job market for hybrids right now. Things are also starting to pick up in a few of the more 'traditional' IT job segments such as application development, IT security and analytics ...
I would argue that those areas aren't just "starting to pick up," but have been in high demand over the past year or longer. Foote foresees a continued bright spot in the employment picture for IT-business hybrids and opportunities there for those considering career change.