Are you endangered? Offshoring now targets corporate IT jobs

Offshoring and productivity gains are expected to blow away 750,000 enterprise IT jobs by 2017

If you're looking for a job in corporate IT, you might want to think again. While there are plenty of jobs at technology companies, startups, and smaller businesses, the classic enterprise IT department is laboring under what can only be called a perfect storm that's blowing away full-time positions at a frightening rate.

"Large companies in North America and Europe are now losing over 250,000 jobs each year in IT, finance, and other key business services areas, due to the combined impact of offshoring, technology-driven productivity improvements, and the low-growth business environment," according to a new research update from The Hackett Group, a global consulting and research organization.

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The report holds a glimmer of good news: Offshoring, the movement of jobs to countries where labor and infrastructure costs are lower, is finally beginning to slow, although Hackett analysts predict that as many as 100,000 jobs in so-called business services will still move annually to other countries over the next few years.

These are all long-term trends, of course, and when looked at over the last decade, the results are staggering. The report says that "of the baseline of about 8 million business services jobs that existed in North America and Europe in 2002, The Hackett Group's research estimates that 46 percent, or 3.7 million jobs, will have disappeared by 2017, including 1.4 million jobs in corporate finance and 1.5 million jobs in corporate IT." Roughly half of those lost jobs were based in the United States.

The job killers

Neither I nor Hackett's analysts are saying that the bottom has fallen out of the IT labor market. In May, for example, the Dice employment board listed 83,000 jobs in IT, including nearly 50,000 full-time positions. That number has held steady for 12 months, and the IT labor market as a whole has long since climbed out of the hole created by the recession.

The Dice data doesn't indicate what sorts of businesses are actually hiring at the moment, and there's another potentially mitigating factor: Many IT jobs within enterprises have moved out of the traditional IT ghetto and into various business-related departments.

A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a net gain of 18,400 jobs in July across four industry job segments commonly associated with IT professionals, the second largest monthly gain in 2013. That's the third month this year in which more than 18,000 workers were added to U.S. payrolls.

The good news notwithstanding, it's clear that corporate IT is far from a fertile field for job seekers and professionals moving up the career ladder.

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