Perhaps the best thing that can be said about 2010 and IT hiring is that large layoffs have tapered off and the overall trend seems to favor hiring.
For sure, IT workers are still losing their jobs, particularly in the weakest areas of economy, such as in state and local government. Camden, N.J., for example, recently announced a plan to lay off one in four city workers to cover a large budget shortfall.
About four IT workers in Camden will be axed if this plan is adopted, and the city says in a report that that cuts will mean "the network will not function effectively." City officials did not respond to request for comment.
Tech spending is expected to rebound next year, with IDC predicting 5.7 percent growth next year worldwide after 3 percent growth this year. But how will that spending on tech translate into hiring with offshore outsourcing increasing?
The latest evidence that IT hiring is improving overall comes from a new study from Computer Economics, which surveyed IT managers at 136 firms in the U.S. and Canada with revenues above $50 million. It found that 48 percent of managers planned to add staff next year, with 11 percent planning to reduce staff.
John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics, said, "The layoffs are over, people are starting to add workers to their payrolls but it is going to be modest."
The survey looked at operational spending in IT, those functions needed for day-to-day operations, and about half of that cost is in salaries, Longwell said.
Longwell said that companies are beginning to take on new IT projects, extending staff hours, hiring contractors -- and turning to outsourcing. In this quarter, 27 percent planned to hire and 14 percent said they were going to decrease staff.
Longwell characterized this year as one of "nervous stability," and said IT operational budget are still restrained and users in their survey are planning for 2 percent growth.
Capital spending in the IT industry is projected to increase next year, which will help tech hiring, and offshore outsourcing will send lower rung IT jobs overseas.
David Foote, CEO of IT workforce analyst firm Foote Partners, said he believes the demand for IT skills -- not necessarily full-time workers -- is stronger, but difficult to track because it is being increasingly spread throughout companies.
Foote says he is seeing a lot demand for specific skills by business units in areas such as predictive analytics, architecture, social media, and security functions that are attached to finance, accounting, and auditing, and not to central IT operations.
"We know that there are pockets of IT spending all over the companies," Foote said.