There are more IT managers working today than two years ago, but their unemployment rate is rising as well. It's a paradox of government data, but there are theories for it.
The government reported that the unemployment rate for computer and information systems managers increased from 2.9% in 2011 to 3.2% in 2012 and 3.5% in the first quarter of this year.
But there are more IT managers today with jobs than there were several years ago. In 2011 there were 553,000 computer and information systems managers counted by the government. That increased to, 605,000 last year and then 638,000 in the first quarter of this year.
This data above is based on IEEE-USA analysis it did of hiring in a number of computer-related occupations. The engineering group released the data to draw attention to a near doubling of the unemployment rate for electrical engineers, to 6.5%.
Foote Partners, a research firm that tracks IT employment trends, said that it found a net gain of 11,400 IT jobs last month, representing 13% of the 88,000 jobs added to the economy overall.
On average, Foote says the U.S. added 14,433 IT jobs per month in the first quarter of this year, up 53% from the monthly average of 9,442 in 2012. Foote doesn't count electrical engineers in its estimate.
David Foote, chief analyst at the firm, said reconciling a rise in IT manager hiring with an increase IT manager unemployment may be due to how the government is counting workers.
As business models in IT delivery shift, many new types of IT manager jobs are being created in lines of business where they didn't exist before, said Foote. That might involve, for instance, cloud and SaaS services management. The government may be counting these new jobs. But when it comes to the supply of managers on the labor market, the government may be using more rigid or conservative criteria.
Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, which also researches IT hiring, offers another theory. He said it's possible that IT professionals, who may have moved to different types of jobs during the downturn, may be trying to get jobs as managers, increasing government's unemployment percentage.
A third explanation may be due to the data itself, at least as far as the first quarter of this year is concerned. The analysts, as well as the IEEE, point out that sample size of the quarterly data is smaller than the full year data.
Analysts use different methods and labor categories to assess IT job growth. Janco estimated that only 5,400 IT jobs were created last month. In a survey of 97 CIOs, the firm concluded that hiring is coming to a standstill, as managers become less confident about the economy and impact of the government sequester.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.