Sign of Recovery: Full-time Tech Jobs Trump Consulting Gigs

Don Tennant

Full-time IT professionals as a group were hurt worse by the recession than contract workers, because they faced layoffs as opposed to a less-devastating decrease in contract fees. Now those full-timers are making a comeback.


A lot of employers continue to be skittish about hiring full-time workers because of their uncertainty about the economy. But according to Tom Silver, senior vice president at IT employment services provider Dice.com, the percentage of full-time jobs vs. contract jobs is growing, and is expected to return to near pre-recession levels by the end of next year:

On Dice, the percentage of full-time jobs has crept slightly up over the course of the year, to where it's now at 60 percent. The percentage of contract jobs has slightly gone down to around 45 percent. The reason that adds up to more than 100 is that some jobs can be both. The projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are such that there's forecast for general improvement in economic conditions through 2011. And as that happens, I would expect to see the percentage of positions that are full-time will slowly increase to 63-65 percent by the end of next year. And the percentage of contract jobs will probably decline a little bit to probably the low 40s. Just to give you some historical perspective, if you go back to February of 2009, the percentage of full-time positions on Dice was 67 percent, and the percentage of contract positions was 42 percent. So I think that's probably the direction we're heading in again.

That said, Silver also noted that in the near term, employers will be forced to rely heavily on contract workers to get projects that were put on hold quickly back on track:

Companies have things that they have to get done right away. And sometimes it's hard, if you haven't hired for a while, maybe you laid some people off, and now you realize you're sort of up against it, and you've got to get certain infrastructure things done right away. So if you haven't hired in a while, and you've got to find people literally tomorrow, that's great for a contractor. So oftentimes, bringing in a contract worker can be quicker, and the risk can be lower. You can find contractors, and you might be able to bring them in within a week, where typically bringing in someone full-time takes a lot longer. So some companies have realized that they're sort of in desperate straits, to some extent-they've held back on certain infrastructure projects and other tech projects, and they realize they've got to get it done, like now. That sense of urgency, "I've got to have it now," can work well for a contractor. That said, longer-term, employers realize that as their business improves and they feel less uncomfortable and less uncertain, they can resume some of the infrastructure projects on a longer-term basis.

So what about companies that rely heavily on contract workers to avoid having to spend the time and money to retrain full-time workers as the organization's skills needs change? Isn't the argument in favor of that sort of nimbleness a strong one? Not according to Silver, who calls it a shortsighted, expensive way to go:

I wouldn't do that. I think it's short-term to do that. In the longer term, it's going to cost you more. If you continue to rely on contractors, what happens when they leave? Companies have to build up tech expertise within their own infrastructure and environment in order to compete going forward. If you continue to just bring in the outside guys who then turn around and leave, you're not building up that skills base within your own organization. Ultimately it's going to cost you more, and it's going to slow you down in the future.

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Oct 25, 2010 6:15 PM Mr. Big Mr. Big  says:

Are you listening to the same guy told you 4.3% unemployment rate in IT again Don ?? All I can tell you Dice.Com is full of lie.... May be it is true many new contractor positions out there recently. but yeah right my company just hired a bunch of Contractors but all are from India with B-1 and H-1B visas. They hire new contractors mostly from India not local... Keep yourself straight Don quit listen to garbage from Dice.Com.. 

Oct 26, 2010 2:01 PM mataj mataj  says: in response to Don Tennant

Here's where I picked up that coverup thing


Celente is seldomly wrong, and besides, he's pretty remarkable character.

Oct 26, 2010 4:25 PM mataj mataj  says:

That's just a percentage. Overall numbers are down


There is no recovery, it's a coverup (Gerald Celente)

Oct 26, 2010 6:07 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Mr. Big

That's a Bureau of Labor Statistics figure cited by Dice, not a Dice figure. And to suggest that most contractor positions are H-1B positions is absurd. I trust that if you choose to post a comment in the future, you'll be more careful to provide factual, helpful information rather than use my blog as a forum to mindlessly denigrate some person or entity. That nonsense contributes nothing to the discussion.

Oct 26, 2010 6:15 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to mataj

Thanks for the link -- that's a great contribution to the discussion. The coverup thing is a bit over the top, though. Who's behind this coverup?

Oct 27, 2010 6:53 PM Mr. Big Mr. Big  says: in response to Don Tennant

OK OK ! Don, you are right that I don't have factual prove. If you have your own prove, can you show me the link to Bureau of Labor Statistics figure ? To me Dice.com just wants people to access their site and they can say whatever they want to gain more clicks that basic is..

I just told you most of contractors at my company are H-1B workers. There is only one or two American contractors that is. Basically, American is around 2% of the total contractors at my company.

I can't get a real number  because I don't have any link or site to prove it. Well can anybody here give me the number of H-1B contractors  at your company to compare with my company H-1B rate ?

Oct 28, 2010 7:10 PM Mr. Big Mr. Big  says: in response to mataj

Thanks mataj for post two best posts around here. I and some people here are in the hardcore IT business are we are well known of the situation with the industry. I went to Dice.com to search for job recently (three days ago) in my city, it seems the IT jobs are shrinking comparing to previous two months ago and I don't know what the hell Dice.com talking about the gain of contractor jobs. When I show up at my company most of the new hires are H-1B visa workers. It is a devastated situation for the unemployed. I don't know why Don is still support the lie and liars out there. Don jet get your fact just simply quit listen to your buddy Dice.com !!! If you are keeping support those crooks and you very much turn your back again 15 million unemployed Americans. Shame on you Don..

Oct 30, 2010 7:40 PM Mr. Big Mr. Big  says: in response to Don Tennant

Mr. Don

Where are my posts ? I posted two replies but none of them show up after 4-5 days. Did I offend you ? or my post is not qualified ? Let me Mr. Don Tennant !!


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