IT professionals were significantly less optimistic than workers in most other sectors about jobs last month, according to a new report released by Hudson, a professional staffing and outsourcing firm that conducts monthly phone interviews with more than 9,400 employees in several industries.
Compared to a base score of 100, IT and telecom workers rated job confidence at a score of 98.9 in October, down 5.9 points from September, a month when IT pros had been more confident than workers in most other sectors surveyed by Hudson, including health care, accounting, and financial services.
Confidence levels took a reversal last month, however. In October, while optimism among IT workers dipped, the national job confidence index—which includes all sectors—rose to 100.5, up 3.7 points since September.
Last month, health-care workers were the most optimistic, with job confidence scores hitting 105.9, followed by accounting and financial services pros, which rated their confidence at 105.2. While IT pros were less optimistic than workers in those other sectors, tech pros weren't the gloomiest crowd: The manufacturing sector—which always tends to have the most pessimistic job outlook—scored 90.8.
Confidence among IT workers most likely dropped because fewer said they were satisfied with their jobs. In October, only 71% of the more than 500 IT pros surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs, down from 82% in September. Also, 27% of tech pros in October said they were worried about losing their jobs, up from only 21% in September.
In an E-mail interview with InformationWeek, Kevin Knaul, executive VP of Hudson's IT and Telecommunications practice, said that while October's decline can be attributed to weakened job satisfaction and job security, those figures were "unusually elevated" in September. October's results "represents more of a return to the status quo than a true warning sign of weakness in the sector," he says. "The September highs may be attributed to heightened sense of personal security in the face of national disasters," such as the Hurricane Katrina, he says.
At the same time, the recent hurricanes also have forced some companies to sharpen their focus on data back-up and security, so skills related to those technologies are in demand right now, says Knaul. "The potential for massive infrastructure damage made a lot of IT directors revisit the question of 'what if this happened to us,'" he says. In addition, "systems integration continues to be a big investment area, particularly as firms are implementing and tweaking ERP packages related to Sarbanes-directed process controls," he says. Also in demand are skills related to wireless and Wi-Fi technology, which are "particularly hot," as is radio frequency identification, or RFID, for both product and service industry applications, he says.