Despite adding almost 75,000 jobs over the course of 2013, the IT labor market is predicted to remain weak in 2014 due to hesitant CIO hiring forecasts and a generally poor job participation rate in the United States.
Janco Associates, which tracks the IT job market (as opposed to the technology employment field generally) provided a press release today with a retrospective survey of IT job growth across 2013. On the whole, the field added 74,900 jobs for the year, with a scant 3,200 positions added in December. Despite a midyear bump, hiring remains down overall, with almost 5,000 jobs shed in September and almost no hiring at all taking place in November.
Janco's survey of 102 CIOs, conducted over the past two weeks, revealed that hiring plans for 2014, for all job types from executives down to staff and contractors, remain either stagnant or are headed downwards.
Another overall sign of trouble, according to Janco, is the continued decline of participation in the labor market, which has been dropping steadily since 2008. It's down from around 66 percent for that year to less than 63 percent at the end of 2013, with 2013 showing a drop in almost a whole percentage point across the year. "[This] does not bode well for IT expansion and hiring," said Janco's CEO, Victor Janulaitis.
The bad news for IT jobs will most likely be exacerbated by further contractions in the PC market. Both IDC and Gartner tracked a 10 percent decline for PC shipments worldwide from last year as the market shifts all the more aggressively toward mobile technology. At CES 2014, the PC itself was barely visible, except maybe in the form of gimmicky dual Windows/Android systems, which seem unlikely to boost PC sales. Instead, smart mobile technology was all the rage.
Such changes imply that the jobs within IT that experience growth are equally fluid. Software development (including jobs involving open source technologies) has been up year-over-year for the past decade, for instance, with electrical engineers trending downward. Also, the exact barrier to hiring is a subject of debate. Some say it's companies worrying about a lack of suitable tech talent, while others insist the "STEM crisis" is an effect of poor hires, not its reason for being.
Still, there's plenty of evidence that jobs supported by the conventional PC space are contracting. Rumors are swirling that a newly private Dell is considering cutting major chunks of its workforce -- as much as 20 percent of sales in the United States. That move is most likely being driven by further consolidation of its product lines and greater volumes of sales driven through channel partners.
This story, "2014 isn't looking any better for IT jobs," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.