What’s going on with IT hiring?

Questions about the health of the IT job market

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CompTIA, an industry group, said about 96,000 IT jobs were lost last month across all industries, not just the technology sector. That figure includes the impact of the approximately 37,000 telecommunications jobs sidelined by the Verizon strike, which was settled this month. But it was a rough month, by some estimates.

Analysts have been generally cautious this year about IT hiring trends. Although the unemployment rate for IT professionals is about half the national average of 4.7%, said CompTIA, some analysts use terms ranging from "modest" to "pre-recession" to describe IT hiring.

Reports on IT employment from four different groups -- two independent analysts and two industry groups -- present a mixed picture. Although they all use the same government data, analysts can pick and choose from many different categories to build their analysis, which can produce different assessments.

Janco Associates, an analyst group, said the IT job market shrank by 27,700 jobs last month. It said that overall job creation is well behind last year's pace. By Janco's count, 112,500 new IT jobs were created in 2015. This year, the firm is forecasting 40,300.

May's result may be "may be the first shoe dropping for a new recession," said Victor Janulaitis, Janco's CEO, in a statement.

But analyst group Foote Partners said tech employment gained some 13,500 jobs last month, once the impact of the Verizon strike is accounted for. Similarly, industry group TechServe Alliance reported almost the exact same increase as Foote, once adjusted for the Verizon strike.

Foote, in a statement, however, noted that there's been relatively poor performance in hiring since November, despite a particularly strong April. Hiring "has more or less flatlined at a much lower level of growth. This fact should be a concern to IT professionals."

For its part, TechServe said the rate of growth, at 3.56%, held steady, although it has previously described this growth rate as modest.

Both TechServe and Foote include a category for management/technical consulting services, which was responsible for much of the employment gains last month. Janco does not; it believes too many non-IT jobs are in that category.

CompTIA said the largest sub-segment within the management/technical consulting industry segment is management consulting, followed by marketing consulting. Tim Herbert, who heads research at this industry group, said, "There is not a great way to separate the firms doing traditional strategy or marketing work from those doing tech-related work."

CompTIA said the number of IT job postings in May totaled 115,000, down 21,100 from April. Employers posted 58,700 job openings for software and application developer positions last month, more than half the total.

Other categories hiring included computer systems engineers and architects at 15,500 job postings, computer systems analysts at 13,900 postings, IT project managers at 13,700 and computer user support specialists at 13,200, CompTIA reported.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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