It's official: IT hiring has slowed

Budget sequestration may be helping to chill the job market for IT pros over the last several months

After a decent start earlier this year, IT hiring is slowing down. Despite a 203,000 increase in the overall number of jobs added to the U.S. economy in November, an analysis of hiring by two independent groups shows decreasing demand for IT pros. That trend has become apparent over the last several months.

The first analysis, by TechServe Alliance, an industry group, reports that IT hiring expanded by 3,200 jobs in November, 3,100 jobs in October, and 6,100 jobs in September. Those numbers are well off the hiring gains posted earlier this year.

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From June to January of this year, the number of new IT jobs added on a monthly basis ranged from about 20,000 to just over 30,000, according to TechServe. "We are noticing a clear deceleration in the rate of growth," said Mark Roberts, the CEO of TechServe.

Nonetheless, there have been 28 months of consecutive job growth in IT. The total IT employment base is now 4.5 million, up 180,200 jobs this year, the group said.

Roberts blamed the slowdown on a variety of factors, including waning confidence and the ongoing government impasse on spending.

The Conference Board recently reported that its consumer confidence index decreased sharply in October and again in November. Consumers expressed "greater concern about future job and earning prospects," the Board said.

In analyzing IT hiring, some firms such as Janco Associates limit the types of IT occupations they study, and use a data set that's smaller than that used by TechServe. But Janco still sees the same trend. By Janco's count, only 400 IT jobs were added last month, 4,300 in the last three months and nearly 71,000 this year.

Victor Janulaitis, the CEO of Janco, said the IT job situation is unlikely to improve -- especially once a new round of government mandated cuts, sequestration, hits the defense industry. That's because defense firms employ many people in states with large IT populations, including California, Washington, and Virginia.

"I think the recovery is on spotty ground at this point in time," said Janulaitis. He said CIOs are becoming more cautious on hiring, based on his survey over the last two weeks.

Incidentally, a trade group in North Carolina that tracks IT hiring in that state, noted a decline in hiring as well. "This drop came unexpected as many job markets swing up during the fall," reported the North Carolina Technology Association.

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 pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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This story, "It's official: IT hiring has slowed" was originally published by Computerworld.

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