IT employment falls in U.S.; hiring may be stalled for months

It had bucked the national trend for months

IT employment in the U.S. dropped in November after months of bucking national employment trends in other industries, said the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (NACCB).

U.S. IT employment dropped by nearly 34,000 jobs, or 0.87%, in November, according to the NACCB, an Alexandria, Va.-based trade group that represents IT staffing firms.

Compounding the issue, a study by The Hackett Group indicated that as many as one in four IT jobs at Global 1000 firms could be moved offshore by 2010.

Even with November's losses, IT employment in the U.S. is up 2.1% from November of 2007, the NACCB said. IT employment dropped slightly in September and October, the organization said.

However, IT employment in the U.S. increased by more than 1% in three months during the past year -- November 2007, and February and May 2008.

In a survey released this week, IT recruiting site found that most tech-job recruiters and hiring managers are curtailing hiring plans for the next six months. Thirty-two percent of the more than 1,000 hiring managers and recruiters surveyed said they are substantially scaling back hiring plans during the next six months, and another 40% said they are slightly scaling back hiring plans.

Only 22% of the Dice survey respondents said they were not scaling back IT hiring plans. Just under half said layoffs were likely or very likely at their own companies or their clients' in the next six months. Meanwhile, 70% of the hiring managers and recruiters said they are seeing more candidates for jobs since Dice's last survey in June.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said they had no urgency to fill open positions, and another 52% said they were using slight caution when filling positions, based on the weak economy.

The latest Dice survey was conducted in November.

Following November's IT employment drop, there are just under 3.9 million IT jobs in the U.S., the NACCB said.

"Given the continued deterioration of broad swaths of the economy, the marked drop in IT employment was not surprising," Mark Roberts, CEO of the NACCB, said in a statement. "While IT employment continues to outperform the general employment marketplace on a year-over-year basis, that is small consolation for those companies and individuals affected."

The drop affected IT jobs in a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, manufacturing and financial services, the NACCB said. However, the computer systems and design services sector saw an employment gain of less than 0.2% for the month, the trade group said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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