New government report shows growth in tech jobs and total IT employment nearly back to 2008 pre-recession levels. But fourth quarter data raises some concerns.
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Tech-related jobs in the U.S. grew 2% in 2011 and are now close to their pre-recession levels. And IT unemployment averaged 3.7% in 2011, down from 5.3% in 2010, according to data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' year-end report based on surveys of U.S. households throughout 2011.
IT is faring better than managerial and professional workers overall, where unemployment in 2011 was 4.5%, down from 4.7% in 2010, according to the Current Population Survey data.
About 3.98 million people are employed in 12 IT-related job categories, the survey finds. In 2008, 4.0 million IT pros were employed, but that dropped as low as 3.78 million in 2009. The survey estimates the U.S. economy created about 83,000 IT jobs in 2011.
The year-end BLS report averages the monthly household surveys taken throughout 2011.
Looking just at the fourth quarter 2011 data, however, raises some concern. Total IT employment fell 5% in Q4 from Q3, from 4.1 million to 3.9 million. Such quarter-to-quarter shifts are not uncommon--2010 also ended with a Q4 drop, only to see jobs grow throughout 2011. And the 2011 Q4 employment total is still ahead of 2010 Q4. It's a trend to watch in the coming months.
InformationWeek's own Outlook 2012 survey, conducted in October 2011, suggests cautious hiring ahead. One-fourth of companies say they'll expand IT staffs this year, while another 36% are filling open positions. But 30% predict a continued hiring freeze, and 9% are cutting. However, more than half of companies say they're planning to increase IT spending over the prior year and just 16% say they're cutting. And 76% of companies say the demand for IT projects is rising inside their companies, while just 3% say it's dropping.
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