IT Unemployment: Is 2.3% Good?

It sounds low, but it's merely average compared with the broad professional ranks. Here are some more stats on the state of the U.S. IT job market.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

April 10, 2007

2 Min Read

It sounds low, but it's merely average compared with the broad professional ranks. Here are some more stats on the state of the U.S. IT job market.These IT employment numbers are follow up on our coverage this week on the unprecedented rush on U.S. H-1B guest worker visas, leading to the quote being filled in two days. That's spurred talk of reform, and raising the visa cap.

That leads to the question of how healthy the IT job market is. We note in our coverage that the U.S. IT unemployment rate is 2.3%, using the average of the past four quarters of data from the Current Population Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares with 2.2% across all management and professional jobs. The days of 5.5% unemployment in 2003 and 2004 have passed, but it's been hard transition that's left total jobs just above where they were before the bust.

Here are a few more data points to draw out of the BLS data, comparing the four quarters ended March 30 to the same period in 2004:

* About 3.49 million IT pros are employed, with a workforce of about 3.56 million. Neither number changed notably the past year, and IT jobs are up about 5% since the depths of 2004.

* The bulk of job growth since 2004 has been management (up 18%) and software engineers (up 12%). These are based on descriptions of work, not job titles.

* Software engineers is the largest IT job category, employing 25% of IT pros. Next is computer scientists and system analysts (20%), and third is programmers (16%).

* The programmer category lost the most jobs, down 5% since 2004 after being up about the same amount last year. It's down 26% since 2001, but it's stabilized somewhat since the plunge after 2001. Programmer employment has been somewhere just above a half million jobs for each of the past four years.

We're working on our package of career articles around our annual Salary Survey (publishing April 30), if you have a story of transition in an IT career -up, down, or out-you want to share, share it here with your peers, or drop us a message.

About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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