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IT Jobs Are Growing, But Can It Last?

U.S. IT employment is back over the 4 million mark.

U.S. IT employment peeked back over the 4 million job mark in the second quarter, back to the employment levels of 2008, before the financial crisis brought major layoffs.

The big question: Will the jobs momentum last? IT employment also hit 4 million in the second quarter of 2010, only give back the job growth in the following quarters. In 2008, by comparison, there were three consecutive quarters with more than 4 million IT pros employed, before the fourth quarter wiped out around 260,00 IT jobs, a more than 6% drop.

The figures come from a second quarter report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly Current Population Survey of households about their employment.

U.S. IT employment was at 4.06 million in the second quarter, based on adding up the employment estimates for 12 computer and software related job categories. That led to an IT unemployment rate of 3.4%, compared with unemployment of 4.4% for all of managerial, professional, and related occupations. IT made up 7.7% of the 52.7 million managerial and professional jobs. At its worst during the recession, IT unemployment was just over 6%.

A different IT jobs index also shows growth last quarter for IT employment but a "pause" in that momentum in June. The TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of IT services firms, clients, consultants and suppliers, publishes a job index using BLS data from employers, instead of from workers. That also shows U.S. IT employment above 4 million (4.05 million), and nearly 133,000 new jobs since a year ago, but it shows almost no growth last month. Despite that pause, "all signs point to the sector continuing to outperform the overall job market,” said Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance.

Preliminary data just in from our InformationWeek 500 research includes one data point on IT spending that supports this growth view. Nearly 70% of companies expect to spend more this year than last year on IT, and just 11% plan to cut. In 2009, when companies were slashing IT jobs, 42% of companies expected to cut their IT budgets, and just 37% expected it to grow. (Sign up to attend our IW 500 conference here.)

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