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4/19/2006
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IT Workforce Rise Occurs Despite Fewer Software Developers, Thanks To Managers

Numbers don't always add up. Take, for instance, the latest IT employment stats that show American IT employment at a record high.

Numbers don't always add up. Take, for instance, the latest IT employment stats that show American IT employment at a record high.According to an InformationWeek analysis of first-quarter labor statistics data, IT employment reached a record 3.472 million. That's 17,000 more employed in infotech than in the third quarter of 2001, the height of the dot-com job boom.

But wait. Factor out the 91,000 increase in the number of IT managers between late 2001 and early 2006--a 31% rise--and the growth in non-managerial IT actually slipped by 74,000. Moreover, the number of IT pros who develop and administer software--an amalgamation of four job categories: computer programmers, scientists and analysts, software engineers, and database administrators--dipped during that time span by 1%.

"On the positive side, salaries may increase as higher-value jobs are created," says Ray Lawson, a software developer who's a board member at the Programmers Guild, an IT employee advocacy group. But Lawson laments that software-related job growth in the United States should be sluggish at best, noting the impact of offshore outsourcing and foreign visa programs on software employment in the United States. "This occupation is rapidly evolving in the United States, and the impact of global competition are not well understood," he says. "Software-related IT occupations make up the vast majority of overall IT jobs."

Lawson's right: Software represented two-thirds of IT jobs in the United States last quarter, the same level as it was in 2001. Doesn't seem like much growth there, does it?

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