A Good News/Bad News Jobs Report

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Top 10 Metro Areas for Tech Employment

Employers added a net 103,000 jobs in September, although that included 45,000 Verizon workers who had been on strike during August. The Los Angeles Times notes that's not enough to keep up with population growth - that would require about 125,000 net new jobs a month. The national unemployment rate remains stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent.


As we know, though, the tech unemployment rate is much lower, somewhere around 3.7 percent.


The report shows a net gain of 11,500 jobs in two IT services job sectors: Management and Technical Consulting Services, and Computer Systems Design and Related Services, according to IT analyst firm Foote Partners. That's the 16th consecutive month of job growth in these categories. Said CEO David Foote in email:

There have been 76,200 jobs added to these segments in the last six months, and nearly 130,000 in the last twelve months. There's no question that consulting firms and systems integrators are benefitting from current corporate staffing strategies for acquiring needed pure technology skills - which is to rent them, not to buy them.

He again pointed to the rise of IT-business hybrid positions:

The broader trend continues to be employers hiring hybrid IT-business professional with combinations of both business and technology knowledge, experience, and skill sets unlike those found in traditional IT organizations. It's nearly impossible to track these hybrids in the monthly federal jobs reports because they're found in the business lines, corporate departments, product development groups, and in a wide variety of implementation and support functions throughout the enterprise. But make no mistake, it's a very robust job market for them at the moment."

A report issued this week by the non-profit TechAmerica Foundation said the tech industry lost 115,800 jobs in 2010, a 2 percent decline, but added back 115,000 jobs through June, according to this Bloomberg story. Three sectors studied lost jobs in 2010: communications services, technology manufacturing and engineering, and technology services. Only software services gained jobs, and that was by just 1 percent.


But a recent report from commercial real estate specialists Jones Lang LaSalle found tech jobs growing nearly four times faster than the national average since the depths of unemployment in February 2010. And a survey on Big Data analytics by TDWI (report free with registration), found a slew of job titles for those doing this analysis, underscoring the prevalence of these hybrid positions.


Yet three statistics keep Foote concerned about the possibility of a double-dip recession: increases in numbers of long-term unemployed; "discouraged" workers - those not even looking anymore; and those working part time, but not by choice.


As my colleague Ann All wrote this week, though, IT spending is bouncing back, largely as companies look to tech to drive business growth. This McKinsey & Co. article advocates innovation as the key to growth in these volatile times.


Meanwhile, in this article, economist and author W. Brian Arthur explores a world of machine-to-machine automation, like tree roots underground, that he calls "the second economy." When farm jobs disappeared, he explains, there were still manufacturing jobs. When manufacturing jobs disappeared, there were service jobs. This new automation, though, is improving business processes while eliminating service jobs - to what end, he's not quite sure. So far, though, the jobs seem to be in designing and building this infrastructure.

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