3 min read

U.S. IT Jobs Back To 2008 Levels

Bureau of Labor statistics show IT unemployment still hovers above 4%, though, as more unemployed people relaunch their search for work.
Tech-related jobs in the U.S. have recovered back to their pre-recession levels, with total people employed in IT above 4 million again, according to data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' surveys of U.S. households in the first quarter of this year.

U.S. IT employment is at an estimated 4.04 million, according to the first quarter BLS data. That means three of the last four quarters have shown IT jobs above 4 million; the last time that happened was in 2008.

IT unemployment is estimated at 4.3% for the first quarter, based on the survey data. That's an increase from the prior quarter's 3.9% despite IT job growth, as more people returned to the IT workforce as unemployed but looking for a job. The overall managerial and professional unemployment rate is estimated at 4.2%.

[ Want more on the future of IT? Read 15 New Rules For IT To Live By. ]

The BLS data looks at 12 broad IT job categories, using household interviews known as the Current Population Survey. The largest tech categories are software developer and computer and IS manager, while the smallest are computer and information research scientist and information security analyst.

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Some critics consider the survey definition of what an IT worker is today too narrow, given the importance of deep tech skills in many business unit functions. But the surveys do provide a high-level trend of the U.S. IT job market's health.

InformationWeek's recent survey of IT executives found a cautious IT hiring picture, with few companies cutting staff but a large minority maintaining a hiring freeze. Eighteen percent of execs in the survey are actively staffing up across many areas, while 36% are staffing up only for specialized tech or business skills.

Those numbers are fairly similar to 2011. Thirty-one percent are in a hiring freeze, while 4% are likely to lay off people. The one big change from 2011 is a drop in those looking to use outsourcers or contractors before hiring full time: that dropped to 11%, from 19% in 2011.

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