IT job market recovering faster than after dot-com bubble burst

The unemployment rate among techies is half that of the overall national average, according to federal data

More new tech jobs have emerged since the end of the past recession than during the same recovery timelines following the dot-com bubble burst and the early-1990s recession, according to Dice.com. What's more, the unemployment rate among technology professionals is now half that of national average, with especially low unemployment rates for database administrators and network architects.

Per Dice, 42 months have gone by since the most recent recession officially ended in June 2009. In that period, 180,600 tech jobs were created. By contrast, in the 42 months following the end of the recession in March 1991, the overall number of U.S. tech jobs dropped by 48,500. Between November 2001 and April 2005, 415,600 tech jobs had been lost.

IT job market recovering faster than it did post-dot-com bubble burst

According to Dice, the 2001 "tech bubble" recession was by far the most severe for technology professionals. "Even today, with the strong jobs creation, the tech workforce (as defined by those three categories in the BLS) is smaller at 2,976,500 people than its peak of 3,526,000 professionals, which occurred in March of 2001."

As of the end of Q4 of 2012, the unemployment rate for technology professionals was 3.3 percent, holding steady from Q3. By comparison, the unemployment rate among tech pros at the end of 2011 was 4.1 percent; at the end of Q1 in 2012, it was up to 4.4 percent.

BLS figures should be consumed with a dash of salt, however. First off, the bureau has a way of lumping arguably nontechnical jobs into its computer-oriented categories. Second, the BLS doesn't factor in people who are unemployed because they have given up on finding jobs.

That said, by the BLS's reckoning, not only are tech jobs steadily returning, but the unemployment rate among tech pros remains considerably lower than the overall national average. At the end of 2012, the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, more than twice the 4.1 percent unemployment rate among techies. At this point, the national unemployment rate is around 7.8 percent, but just 3.3 percent for technology pros.

IT job market recovering faster than it did post-dot-com bubble burst

A significant chunk of the new tech jobs added in Q4 fall under the technology consulting umbrella -- 21,100, in fact, for a total of 80,500 positions in 2012. This past year marks the best year for this category since 2007, according Dice's analysis of BLS statistics. The most jobs losses for the year were in computer-hardware manufacturing (10,100) and data processing and hosting (1,600).

The unemployment rate for DBAs is 1.5 percent, lowest among all tech-job categories. The second lowest rate is among network architects, at 1.9 percent. For software developers, the rate is 2.9 percent, followed by computer systems analysts at 3.3 percent and Web developers (3.5 percent). Network and systems admins are tied with computer and information systems managers at 4.3 percent, programmers have an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, and among computer support specialists, the rate is now 4.9 percent.

Companies like Microsoft have pointed to the relatively low unemployment rates among IT pros as evidence that there is an IT labor shortage in the United States. The argument here is that the low rate points to a limited supply of skilled workers, so the feds should issue more H-1B visas and green cards to let companies bring in skilled techies from overseas to fill the gap.

This story, "IT job market recovering faster than after dot-com bubble burst," 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.

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