IT Unemployment Levels Low, Poaching Stakes High

Susan Hall
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One network engineer told me about being hounded by recruiters when she was in the job market - people who wouldn't respect that she wouldn't talk to them while driving on the freeway and other irritations. Though she was annoyed, turns out their job was extraordinarily difficult.


Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put the unemployment rate for technology professionals at 4.4 percent, half that of the general work force. And for some specialties, it's nearly impossible to find people. A graphic of the data shows these unemployment rates:


  • Network architects-0.5 percent
  • Database administrators-0.8 percent
  • Computer and information systems managers-2.4 percent
  • Computer systems analysts-2.7 percent
  • Programmers-3.6 percent
  • Web developers-3.6 percent
  • Software developers-4.4 percent
  • Network and systems administrators-5.7 percent
  • Computer support specialists-6.3 percent


Technical consulting remains a big area of job growth, with 20,000 positions added during the first quarter in computer systems design.


Yet despite the paltry raises for IT pros, they've been reluctant to leave their current positions. Over the last 10 years, 414,000 people working in professional and business services left their jobs per month; during the first quarter, however, that number was just 367,000. Turnover levels have been predicted to return to pre-recession levels this year, though.


Dice says raises are what IT pros want most, but close behind, they're looking for more interesting or challenging assignments, followed by a promotion or new title. With so many job opportunities out there, companies will have to step up on the pay front to keep valued workers or face losing them to higher-paying rivals.


And while young workers especially are looking for opportunities to learn new skills, a recent study comparing government workers age 20-29 with those age 50-59 found the two groups similar in wanting managers invested in their development. So if you're a manager who can't offer more money, training might be the lure to keep your staff invested in your company. Or flexibility. Whether it's working non-traditional hours or telecommuting, those opportunities get high marks from IT pros.

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