Three of the four high-tech job sectors analyzed by TechAmerica Foundation saw positive job growth in the first half of 2012, amounting to nearly 100,000 new jobs for the tech industry. The organization called the gains "modest," however, and warned against taking the industry's relative job strength for granted.
The four sectors TechAmerica highlighted in its report are: software services, which added 50,800 jobs between January and June 2012; engineering and tech services, which added 49,900 jobs; technology manufacturing, which gained 9,200 jobs; and communications services, which lost 10,700 jobs.
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Taken together, the nearly 99,300 jobs added between January and June boosted the tech industry's job count by 1.7 percent to 5.99 million at the midyear mark. By comparison, the industry added 118,900 jobs during the Jan.-June period of 2011 for a gain of 2.1 percent.
"While the tech industry has weathered the downturn better than most, we can't take its strength for granted," said Jennifer Kerber, president of TechAmerica Foundation, in a statement. "America can only realize the full promise of an innovation economy with smarter public policies focused on developing and attracting the best talent, investing in research and development, and growing and securing our information infrastructure."
At the start of 2011, U.S. tech employment was at 5.8 million jobs. The industry saw monthly job gains in 16 of the 18 months between January 2011 and June 2012, TechAmerica reports, yielding an increase of 3.3 percent or nearly 200,000 jobs.
"While the growth has been modest, it is up and fairly consistent. With job growth in three of the four tech sectors, we remain optimistic about continued growth into the future," stated Matthew Kazmierczak, senior vice president at TechAmerica Foundation.
TechAmerica's analysis is based on data from the U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics). It only includes data through mid-2012. Since that time, other IT job watchers have observed negative trends in IT job creation.
IT analyst firm Foote Partners, for example, reported that the IT industry lost 1,700 jobs in September, marking the first monthly decline in jobs since August 2010 that wasn't associated with a labor strike or other market anomaly.
(Note: The BLS sectors examined by TechAmerica and Foote Partners are not equivalent. Foote Partners tallied BLS data pertaining to these four segments: management and technical consulting services, computer systems design/related services, telecommunications, and data processing/hosting/related services.)
David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners, said earlier this month that September's unexpected reversal in job growth is likely only temporary.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this turned back around soon, because the truth is that many of the IT job segments in the government jobs reports, in particular those in IT services, have been on strong and sustained growth runs for nearly two years. Companies are actively searching for talent and hiring for the future," Foote stated.
Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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