IT hiring expected to worsen in 2016

After a dismaying soft start, IT hiring totals in 2016 are projected to decline for the third year in a row

IT hiring slump continuing unabated in 2016
Credit: flickr/Editor B

Despite a generally positive economy and job market, IT hiring has been far softer this year compared to the same time period last year.

According to figures released by IT job market analyst firm Janco Associates and based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in March only 3,800 IT jobs were filled -- less than half of March 2015's figures. The year-to-date total for IT jobs is 19,000, compared to 33,900 over the same period last year.

Based on extrapolations of BLS figures, Janco projects that IT hires in 2016 will total around 72,000 -- down from 129,400 in 2014 and 112,500 of 2015 -- unless BLS statistics are readjusted in the coming months (as is sometimes the case). March 2016's hiring figures are among the lowest of the last 12 months, apart from the negative numbers in November and December last year.

job market 2016 Janco Associates

While the IT job market remains a net positive, growth has dwindled over the past year. The first three months of 2016 recorded numbers far lower than the beginning of last year.

In discussions with 80 CIOs for its semiannual salary survey, Janco found that most CIOs were relatively unenthusiastic about hiring for at least the next six months. The picture is modestly rosier beyond that time frame. IT middle management, IT staff, and senior management are all looking to expand over the course of the next 12 months, but IT contractors and consultants will not get a lift.

If there's a silver lining to this cloud, it's that the demanding nature of IT hires has pushed up salaries for many job descriptions. Computerworld's 2016 IT Salary Survey showed pay for jobs like information security manager leaping 6.4 percent, and salaries for app developers and software engineers jumping 4.4 and 4.5 percent, respectively. Specialty jobs like ERP development are also commanding higher pay, in large part because of the specialized nature of such work.

However, there are some issues with the categories that the BLS uses when compiling IT hiring statistic. Most of the jobs in IT fall under three categories: Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services; Computer Systems Design Related Services; and Telecommunications. Those categories have been criticized by Foote Partners, another IT job-market analysis firm, as imprecise and not reflective of the composition of the current IT job market.  Thus, a good deal of IT hiring might be going unrecorded or underreported because it's being classified differently.

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