IT employment will finish year in the black

Tech manufacturing employment experiencing little growth, however

If there is one word that has defined this year, it's "uncertainty." It has been hanging over almost every economic and job growth analysis related to IT. Blame the elections, the fiscal cliff and Europe.

But with less than two months to go in this year, it's safe to say that IT employment will finish 2012 well in the black despite some concerns earlier this year.

Credit: TechAmerica Foundation

Most of this growth will be in tech services, and not in tech manufacturing. The introduction of many new consumer products this year from Microsoft, Apple and Google, has little impact on manufacturing employment in the U.S.

IT employment edged up in October, according to three separate analysts reviews of the U.S. Labor Dept.'s most recent jobs report.

In its analysis, TechServe Alliance, an industry group, looks at IT specific labor categories but also examines IT hiring in other industries, such as trucking.

Although IT hiring showed generally strong month-to-month increases for most of the year, TechServe put last month's gains at just 900, a modest gain that increases this year's IT jobs total to about 4,186,000 million, or about 96,400 new jobs since January.

"While growth IT employment has slowed from its earlier robust pace, there is no suggestion that we are reversing course," said Mark Roberts, the CEO of TechServe Alliance. "Once the uncertainty regarding Europe, the election and the fiscal cliff recede, I anticipate we will again be back on a robust growth trajectory," he said.

Last week, TechAmerica Foundation, an industry group, released its assessment of IT job hiring for the first six months of this year.

Unlike the other analysts, it also reports on manufacturing employment. Tech manufacturing has hired relatively few people, just 9,200, in the first six months of this year. That brings tech manufacturing employment to 1.26 million jobs, a .7% gain. But this gain was offset by a decline in communication services, which fell .9% or 10,700 jobs, according to TechAmerica.

In software services and engineering and all other tech services, TechAmerica estimated that about 100,000 IT jobs were added in the first six months of this year, or about 3%.

Tech manufacturing has been declining nationally thanks to improvements in automation and offshore production. The National Science Foundation, which includes pharmaceuticals and aerospace, as well as IT in its job analysis, said that high tech manufacturing has declined 28% since 2000 or about 687,000.

Employment analysts who look at specific IT services categories reported strong growth in services last month.

Foote Partners said 12,500 IT jobs were added last month, mostly in management technical consulting services and computer systems design and related services.

Janco Associates put October's gains at 6,600 jobs. ""The jobs picture for IT Pros is looking better," said Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis in a statement. "Maybe we are coming out of the recession, but it is a slow and arduous process."

David Foote, the CEO of Foote Partners, says companies are hiring. "I'm certain that we will also see strong IT numbers in November's employment report," he said in a statement.

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

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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