State of IT Staffing: the Good, the Bad and the Uncertain

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While U.S. consumer confidence inched up a bit this month, consumers' overall outlook is generally pretty "dismal," according to the Conference Board's director of consumer research.


A similar pessimism can be seen in a survey of IT professionals by staffing company Spherion, reports internetnews.com. Spherion's monthly Employee Confidence Index, which measures confidence in respondents' personal employment situations and optimism in the macroeconomic environment, fell to 52.9 in November, the lowest level in 2007.


This is a marked change from 2007's first quarter, when a Hudson survey showed IT pros feeling satisfied and secure about their jobs as well as the overall economy. Of course, a lot has happened since then. Can you say "sub-prime mortgage?"


CFOs experienced a similar turnaround, as evidenced by Duke University/CFO Business Outlook surveys from earlier this year. While the execs had a fairly bullish outlook at the end of Q1, that all changed as the mortgage crisis unfolded. (Rising energy costs and political uncertainty didn't help.)


As a Spherion regional VP tells internetnews.com, IT pros appear to be reacting more strongly to the slowing economy than workers in other fields, probably due to the fact that earlier recessions have hit IT especially hard. Thanks to the mortgage crisis, the IT-centric credit and mortgage services sectors are already cutting staffs.


Robert Half Technology's latest IT Hiring Index dipped slightly from the previous quarter, with 13 percent of CIOs saying they plan to add staff in 2008's first quarter and 3 percent expecting to cut staff.


Despite this, executives from Robert Half Technology, Yoh, Forrester Research and Foote Partners all have a largely positive outlook on the IT job market for the near future -- from an employee's perspective. All of these experts, for instance, tell CIO.com that they expect continued salary increases for IT pros in 2008.


The outlook isn't as rosy for employers. Yoh's VP says that pay rates, talent availability and talent retention will top the list of CIO concerns in the coming year.