Are Temporary Jobs the New IT Employment?

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Ten Reasons Why the IT Job Market is Hot in 2010

Find out why IT remains a great career path in 2010.

No one wants to see another bad jobs report. Those kinds of reports make people nervous about investing in or expanding businesses, which further slows economic growth. But the U.S. unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are hardly encouraging.


As the Daily Kos reports, the official unemployment figure remains at 9.6 percent, unchanged since August. The bureau calculated a seasonally adjusted net loss of 95,000 jobs for September, based largely on 77,000 lost jobs at the Census Bureau and another 76,000 in budget-strapped state and local governments. The private sector added 64,000 jobs.


It's interesting that the Census accounted for such a large number of lost jobs. Those are obviously temporary jobs, often performed by retirees, students or others with flexible schedules hoping to make some extra money. Yet I suspect the Census work force may have been a bit more diverse this year, with the crummy economy prompting folks fired from other jobs to take temporary Census positions.


Temporary and part-time work might be becoming more common. The Bureau of Labor Statistics put the number of Americans too discouraged to continue looking for work and part-time workers who want but cannot find full-time work at 17.1 percent, up from 16.1 percent a year ago. The professional and business services sector added 28,000 jobs, mostly temporary hires. Jobs in the leisure and hospitality category, which obviously employs lots of part-time folks, grew by 34,000.


Just yesterday I wrote about Foote Partners' contention that chances for a meaningful recovery in IT jobs this year or even next were slim. According to Foote Partners' analysis, Management and Technical Consulting Services, a category that would likely include lots of contractors, accounted for 68 percent of new IT jobs in the last quarter. In September alone, 6,900 jobs were gained in the Management and Technical Consulting Services segment.


It's no wonder that experts use words like "uncertainty" and "volatility" to describe the employment outlook. The former term was mentioned by John Ryding, an economist quoted by The New York Times, while David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners, uses the latter term to illustrate the current jobs picture. And Foote doesn't think it's a short-term trend. He said:

... It's part of a systemic transformation of the IT service delivery models. Market volatility in skills and jobs will be the new standard in market behavior for years to come in our opinion.