IT hiring jumps in January, after a bad 2009

TechServe Alliance calls addition of 12,900 IT jobs -- the best performance growth in a year -- an "encouraging" sign

U.S. IT employment increased by 12,900 jobs, or 0.3%, in January, one of the best month-to-month gains since the recession hit in late 2008, the TechServe Alliance reported today.

The positive news comes after the prolonged recession had reduced overall IT employment by some 200,000 jobs, according to the IT services industry group, which tracks monthly changes in IT hiring based on its own analysis of U.S. unemployment data.

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The alliance's monthly calculations found that tech employment peaked in November 2008, with some 4 million jobs. But in the first half of last year, IT employment fell off the cliff. The employment picture began stabilizing last summer. The January 2010 report lists a total of 3.823 million IT jobs.

The TechServe alliance described the latest monthly growth figures as "better than incremental." It added that "signs are encouraging that businesses demand for IT professionals and services is growing."

Even so, the tech job market has a lot of ground to cover to make up for last year's job losses.

The IEEE-USA, which is part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, said Friday that the number of working computer professionals in the U.S. dropped by 198,000 during 2009, according to its analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The IEEE-USA recently said the unemployment rate for software engineers fell from 4.7 percent to 4.1 percent from the third to the fourth 2009 quarter, while the total pool of employed software engineers fell from 970,000 to 952,000, a nearly 2 percent decline.

It attributed the decline to decisions by engineers to leave the field because of retirement, or to switch professions.

The IEEE said 82,000 software engineering jobs and 78,000 positions for computer scientists and systems analysts disappeared between 2008 and 2009. "Putting engineers and computer professionals back to work will help power the U.S. economy," said Evelyn H. Hirt, who became the IEEE-USA's president in January.

Another barometer of tech demand are the number of jobs posted on Dice, a technology jobs board. There were nearly 58,000 jobs posted today; as of Jan. 4, it had nearly 49,000 jobs posted.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers, and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, send email to pthibodeau@computerworld.com or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed.

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This story, "IT hiring jumps in January, after a bad 2009" was originally published by Computerworld.