Good news: IT hiring continued showing positive numbers for October. Better news: Figures for IT hiring in previous months were even stronger than originally believed.
New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as analyzed by Janco Associates, Inc., shows that 9,500 IT and computer science jobs were added in October. That's down from the high of 16,500 added from last month, but it's still a net positive. Even more encouraging, revised BLS stats show August 2014 was a far better month for IT hires than originally believed, with 14,200 jobs added in the field as opposed to the original figure of 4,800.
Even without those corrections, the IT job market remains on an upswing, with solid gains posted since the beginning of the year despite a negative blip in February, which showed a net loss of 300 jobs.
Another encouraging note, which was reported by Janco rather than seen in BLS numbers per se, is "an upward pressure on compensation for the first time since 2002," detected by Janco visible through preliminary data collected for its IT salary survey to be published next January.
IT job market participants remain among the best-employed and well-compensated employees in the U.S. economy, with IT job seekers enjoying twice the employment rate of their non-IT brethren (3 percent unemployment for IT; 5.9 percent for the country overall).
But only a small fraction of the overall workforce can consider itself so blessed. With 214,000 net jobs added to payrolls in October -- 9,500 of those in IT -- that puts the amount of job growth due to IT jobs at only 4 percent of the whole. Plus, any rises in wages for IT workers is an exception to the overall economy, where wages have remained generally stagnant against inflation for years now.
One small piece of good news from the general economy: The decline in the labor force participation rate seems to have stopped, at least temporarily. The rate remains at its lowest since the 1970s -- a mere 62.8 percent -- but the last few months haven't shown the precipitous decline we saw in 2013 or through 2009 and 2010. October's rate was actually a slight gain from previous months, where the rate bottomed out at around 62.75 percent.
Where IT hiring shines in its outward numbers, though, other parts of its picture are cloudier, thanks to increased attention to the discrepancies in both hiring and retention for women and non-white applicants. Black and Hispanic computer science graduates, for instance, are not being hired at anywhere near the same rates as white and Asian graduates, despite interest in computer science increasing sharply.
Worse, women are choosing to opt out of tech employment, not because of the work itself, which many describe as rewarding and useful, but because of work environments that leave them feeling sidelined and unwelcome. The raw numbers don't show how much valuable expertise either never makes it into the field or is driven out and doesn't return.