IT job gains: Not as bright as they appear

IT job growth for July is softened by revised Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for the last couple of months

The IT job market for the first half of 2015 is a touch softer than it originally seemed, soft enough that IT job growth is not only flat, but shrinking slightly.

The good news: There is growth, and it continues apace, with one projection putting the number of new IT jobs by over 160,000 by the end of the year.

Janco Associates' monthly crunch of BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) data for the IT job market put July's gains at around 12,200 new IT jobs. That's near the high end of the month-to-month gains for the year to date (16,000 tops), with about 80,000 created for the year so far.

jobgains201507 Janco Associates

IT job growth for the past 12 months. July 2015's gains were offset by revised May and June stats that brought their numbers down.

Those numbers are offset by newly re-examined BLS statistics for May and June 2015. Originally pegged at 13,600 and 8,600 respectively, they've since been revised downward to 12,700 and 5,200. Further offset might also be coming from a round of reported layoffs in the tech sector, to the tune of almost 19,000 jobs for July.

All that has put a dent in growth estimates over the last 12 months, but the base numbers remain solidly positive -- 183,600 IT jobs added during that time, according to Janco.

Within the tech market, there's also been changes in who's keeping their jobs. A recent quarterly report by Dice showed that Web developers and "computer systems analysts," among others, are experiencing slight upticks in unemployment in the last three months, compared to the first quarter. Programmers as a whole, though, enjoyed a massive boost in their overall employment figures, with only around 1.8 percent unemployment in that field. 

The larger economic picture is also heartening. Despite a consistently laggard labor force participation rate of 62.6 percent -- still at its lowest in decades, but at least holding steady for now -- unemployment is down to 5.3 percent, and the economy added 215,000 jobs overall in July. On the downside, wages have been stagnant and are barely keeping apace with inflation, although tech salaries, always ahead of the rest of the economy, are expected to enjoy another lift through the year.

Controversy over the misuse of the H-1B visa program also continues to brew, with offshoring firms like Tata, Cognizant, and Infosys still the main users of the program, as opposed to local tech outfits like Microsoft or Oracle. The U.S. Department of Labor is planning a detailed investigation, though it's likely this was only provoked after public outcry over how major employers (such as Disney) were replacing existing workers with H-1B holders.

This story, "IT job gains: Not as bright as they appear" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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