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3/7/2005
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IT Services Provide Employment Opportunities

One in every 50 jobs created in the United States this past year can be found in companies offering computer-systems design and related services.

IT-services firms are on a hiring binge of sorts. In the past year, companies offering computer-system design and related services added nearly 49,000 positions. One in every 50 U.S. jobs created this past year was in IT services.

Companies engage IT-services firms for a number of reasons. As business improves, companies need quick expertise to exploit their existing IT infrastructure and deploy new technologies such as wireless and radio-frequency ID systems. In addition, employers turn to services firms as a precursor to hiring full-time staffers as they await confirmation that the stronger economy will sustain itself.

Employment at IT-services companies rose 4.4% to more than 1.7 million in February, up from 1.1 million a year earlier, according to the latest employment report issued by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. To put those numbers in perspective, all nonfarm payrolls increased a modest 1.8%, or 2.377 million, year over year to 132.8 million. All figures are seasonally adjusted; last month's stats are preliminary.

IT services is part of an industrial subcategory the BLS defines as professional and technical services, which includes legal, accounting, architectural, engineering, and management services. Altogether, the services industry experienced a 3.3% job growth this past year.

Not all IT sectors performed as well as computer-system design and related services. Computer- and peripheral-equipment makers saw their employment rolls slip by 1.2% to 211,400 in February. But the industry category that includes software vendors, information service providers, and search portals had a 1.2% employment rise to 391,600.

Each month, BLS surveys some 160,000 businesses and government agencies that include about 400,000 work sites. The sample includes about one-third of all U.S. nonfarm payroll workers.

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