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Federal Agencies Plan To Hire Thousands Of IT Pros

A new survey shows that hiring by major federal agencies will rise a modest 1.7% each of the next few years, though that doesn't reflect job demand in intelligence agencies and smaller agencies.

The U.S. government plans to hire more than 11,500 IT professionals over the next three years, according to a survey of federal agencies.

The actual number of new hires may be much more than that, as the survey by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service is based on workforce data and predictions from 35 federal agencies, but didn't include intelligence agencies or those with fewer than 1,000 employees. Agencies were asked to include only the "most critical positions to accomplish program priorities."

The survey looked at hiring and turnover trends in a variety of job categories, including but not limited to IT. As of Sept. 30, 2008, there were almost 56,500 "most critical" IT positions in the agencies surveyed. The survey did not factor in new hires for fiscal 2009, which ends this month.

According to the survey data, IT jobs will increase only 1.7% annually over the next three years, compared to actual hiring in fiscal 2007 and 2008. Overall, there will be a 41% increase in all federal jobs over the next three fiscal years, compared to the previous three years.

The reason all job categories will outpace IT positions is that most of the increases in federal hiring are concentrated in high growth areas such as healthcare, legal, and national security. It also reflects the replacement of retiring baby boomers and increased demand brought on by the military, homeland security, and the recession. The Office of Personnel Management projects that 241,000 federal employees will retire by the end of fiscal 2012.

The average age of IT pros surveyed is 48, and 29% will be eligible for retirement by the end of fiscal 2012.

The Department of Defense employs more mission-critical IT pros than any other federal agency, 25,176. That's followed by the Department of Treasury, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.

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