IT hiring has been on an upward trend through most of the year and continued making gains in November, with some 12,700 new jobs created nationwide in the IT sector.
A total of 108,000 IT jobs have been created thus far in 2014, Janco Associates reported in its monthly analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment data. Even more encouraging, November's numbers stack up well against last year, when a mere 3,100 jobs were added for the same time period.
The figures reflect a stronger overall economy toward the end of 2014, and not only for IT workers, who tend to have a better employment picture than people in other sectors (and earn more on average to boot). In all, 321,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, among the strongest numbers seen in years. While there's reason to be cautious about the numbers are, the IT sector has seen the kind of sustained growth across the year that generally bodes well. (A survey by Dice published last week found that around 60 percent of employers expect to increase hiring in 2015.)
The good news is tempered somewhat by the fact that labor force participation rates are still stuck at a 30-year low of 62.8 percent, but at least the stats are no longer dropping as precipitously. The participation number hasn't moved much in either direction since April; the last time it was that stable was in 2011, when the number hovered at 64.3 percent.
Still, the way 2014 has unfolded is a marked about-face from the dire predictions made at the beginning of the year, when low hiring numbers and weak prospects for the industry generally were forecast. Another interesting change has been the addition of IT jobs in geographic areas not normally associated with growth, and with less exorbitant costs of living than Silicon Valley or the East Coast.
With tech hiring perking up, skepticism is once again mounting about the talk of a shortage of qualified IT workers. U.S. Census Bureau research conducted earlier this year (albeit using 2012 data) showed that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates are not, in fact, in short supply. Rather, they're being overproduced for the workforce by a ratio of around 2 to 1. Bloomberg Businessweek resorted to the bluntest language possible when it proclaimed "The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist," in an article that blamed notions of a shortage on "the industry’s desire for lower-wage, more-exploitable guest workers, not a lack of available American staff."
That analysis squares with previous dissections of STEM shortages as demand-side, rather than supply-side issues. One commonly offered remedy for closing the alleged gap -- namely, raising the H-1B visa cap -- is regarded by some as little more than a way for the tech industry to import cheap foreign labor. What's more, many of those H-1B visas go to offshore consultancies, meaning they may discourage both domestic job production and the long-term production rates for STEM graduates.