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1/29/2008
01:55 PM
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Fears About Economy Drag Down Tech Job Mood

However, demand for workers in IT is still consistent, according to a survey by IT staffing and outsourcing firm Hudson.

Anxiety about the economy sank spirits among techies in January, as their job confidence plummeted to record low levels, according to the latest monthly survey by IT staffing and outsourcing firm Hudson.

Compared to a base score of 100, job confidence among IT and telecom pros fell 8.8 points in January, hitting 91.0, the lowest level since December 2003, when Hudson began its monthly phone survey of 9,000 workers across several sectors, including more than 400 techies.

The mood among techies has been sinking steadily since October-- January was the fourth consecutive decline in job confidence in the tech sector. However, techies have plenty of company. Hudson's overall index representing workers in all sectors fell only eight-tenths of a point, but hit a score of 89.0, two points lower than the tech sector.

Worries about a possible recession are "affecting all vertical sectors and job populations," said Tim Bosse, a Hudson executive VP. "It's all about the economy," he said.

January was also tough because "holiday expenses are coming in and cash is going out," he said.

Still, demand for workers in IT "is still consistent," he said. However, while IT managers are looking for talent, they are being a little more careful about hiring, he admits. "It depends how critical the skill set is to the business," he said. "Is it mission critical, keep the lights on, versus on the wish list," Bosse said IT managers are asking themselves.

What's on the mission-critical list? "Projects managers, business analysts," said Bosse. The wish list appears to include upgrades or enhancements to existing applications, he said.

Bosse said the economic stimulus package being hammered out by Congress will likely be a boost to confidence, especially if companies get tax breaks on capital expenditures, like IT. "They'll need people" to deploy new IT, he said.

Even without the stimulus package being a done deal, Bosse thinks the worse could be over in terms of declining mood among techies. "Fewer workers were worried about losing their jobs last month, maybe we've already hit bottom," he said.

While in January fewer IT workers expected their companies to add headcount--25% versus 28% who thought that in December--only 22% of techies in January worried about losing their jobs, versus 24% who feared that in December.

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