IT hiring jumps in April; demand up sharply for full-time workers

Increase in full-time hiring may be sign of long-term confidence, experts say

Last week's U.S. government report showing an increase of 290,000 jobs in April brought some good news to tech workers as there was a sharp increase in IT hiring.

Perhaps even more important for tech workers, Dice.com, an IT jobs board, reported a sizable increase in the percentage of opportunities for full-time rather than contract workers.

In terms of the broader numbers, TechServe Alliance, an industry group that tracks month-to-month IT hiring trends, reported Monday that tech employers added 17,300 jobs in April, rebounding from a slight dip in March. Alexandria, Va.-based TechServe said the latest numbers, part of a mostly upward trend that started late last year, are a clear indication that momentum has returned to the technology market.

Foote Partners LLC in Vero Beach, Fla., Monday released a report that supported TechServe Alliance's analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Foote said its analysis of IT employment saw a net gain of 8,800 jobs in April, representing a swing of nearly 16,000 jobs from March when IT employment dipped by nearly as much.

It's important to note that that there is no one analysis or set of numbers on the state of IT hiring. The various groups that analyze labor data can pull from different government labor data sets, that can either be broad or more focused on bellwether categories, such as in the case in Foote. But while the approaches may differ, there is usually agreement on the broader trends.

Meanwhile, Thomas Silver, senior vice president, North America at Dice Holdings, Inc., said 62% of jobs advertised on Dice.com in April were for full time positions, up from the all-time low of 56% last October.

The increase in full-time job offers is an indication "that employers are becoming more and more confident about what their needs are going to be," said Silver.

There are also more employers advertising for help. Dice had some 68,000 job advertisements posted Monday; in June of last year, the low point, there were only 47,000 jobs were listed.

Over the longer term, TechServe Alliance said that employers have added more than 43,000 IT jobs to their payrolls since August 2009, most of them this year.

The good news comes after TechAmerica, an industry group based in Arlington, Va., reported a loss of some 250,000 tech jobs last year, mostly due to the recession.

David Foote the CEO and research officer at Foote Partners, said, in a statement, that while stabilization is occurring in IT employment and salaries, "on the other hand pay and demand for specific skills continues to swing wildly up and down within windows as short as three months."

Foote believes that "we will never return to the sort of labor marketplace for IT professionals that existed before 2008," and argues that the downturn has forced many executives to reexamine IT.

"The truth is that IT professionals have a big stake in their companies' outcomes if they can rise to the challenge their business counterparts have put before them," said Foote. "The recession has been a wake-up call for many of the laggards, which is why the marketplace for skills will remain volatile for years, not just months, to come," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS 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 pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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