WASHINGTON - Tech employment posted a large increase last month, despite a generally soft employment gain overall, according to two separate reports.
The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, but IT accounted for 22,100 of those jobs, according to Foote Partners, an IT labor analyst and research firm.
Industry group TechServe Alliance, which also calculates month-to-month changes in tech hiring, put the January increase at 15,800 jobs, or 0.37% sequential growth.
Of the total number of jobs added to the economy last month, tech hiring contributed 14% or 10% of this total, depending on which estimates are used.
TechServe put the overall IT workforce, excluding manufacturing, at 4.3 million. Some of last month's gains may reflect the annual rebenchmarking by the Labor Department, the group said.
David Foote, the CEO of Foote Associates, said January accounts for the largest monthly hiring increase that the firm has seen in five years.
Foote said IT jobs have been on a sustained growth run since last February, with 132,300 IT jobs added since then.
Momentum may be at work. Foote reports that the average monthly IT jobs gains in the last three months of 2012 exceeded the average in the first nine months of last year by 350 jobs per month.
He said the hiring is being driven by IT executives who are trying to change their organizations in response to business needs.
Absent a repeat of the 2008 market crash, Foote expects the hiring trend to continue because of some fairly solid fundamentals, "having to do with the role of technology and information in allowing an employer to be competitive in the marketplace, to maintain and increase revenues, to be more profitable, to grow market share, or to keep their customers satisfied."
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.