IT Job Prospects Are Looking up in the 'Rust Belt'

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If you happen to live in the "rust belt" that extends from Michigan, swings down through Ohio and curves up to include western Pennsylvania, no one needs to tell you that your area was particularly hard hit by the recession. The good news is that tech jobs appear to be making a comeback in the region.


IT employment services provider Dice.com has come up with a list of the 10 fastest-growing metro areas in the country as determined by the number of IT job postings listed on its site, and five of the top six are squarely in rust-belt country. Here's the list, with the growth rate from Feb. 1, 2010 to Feb. 1, 2011, along with the numbers of job postings behind those percentages:


  1. Detroit, 101 percent (408 to 822)
  2. Cincinnati, 75 percent (309 to 540)
  3. Cleveland, 62 percent (294 to 476)
  4. Columbus, 57 percent (515 to 808)
  5. Seattle, 54 percent (1,465 to 2,259)
  6. Pittsburgh, 45 percent (436 to 631)
  7. Miami, 42.5 percent (374 to 533)
  8. Jacksonville, 41 percent (269 to 380)
  9. Chicago, 40 percent (2,309 to 3,236)
  10. Silicon Valley, 39.5 percent (3,435 to 4,792)


I spoke with Dice Senior Vice President Tom Silver about the list, and asked him whether we can conclude from it that the rust belt is morphing into a tech belt. He clearly saw that as a bit of a stretch:

It certainly is moving more in that direction, but I would look at it a little bit differently. For the most part the "rust belt," if you want to call it that, certainly is catching up in terms of gradual improvement in overall economic conditions and demand for tech professionals. So for one who has tech skills, it's continuing a positive trend. We've seen growth in those areas that are known for tech interest and being tech-centric types of markets, and now that's extending into other parts of the country.

I asked him what drove Detroit to the top of the list. His response:

It's a little bit of a bounce back-Detroit might have been hit harder than other parts of the country. So to some extent we're just seeing a recovery there that's a reflection of the fact that it got hit pretty hard. We're also seeing some indications that the automotive industry is improving. So I think gradually people are realizing that Detroit, despite the headlines, anyway, is not such a horrible place. Little by little, as the economy improves, Detroit stands to benefit from that recovery.

I also asked Silver what we can make of the fact that half of the cities on the list are in Ohio and Florida, and he said there, too, it's a recession recovery thing:

Ohio certainly has its fair share of manufacturing, and it took a pretty big hit, and is now recovering. And certainly Florida was disproportionately hit by some of the financial crisis issues, particularly real estate. So that's also a sign of some recovery happening there.