Feeds

Have IT vendors been hit harder than IT departments?

Comment: Less hiring, more firing, but still a net gain

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

I don't know about you, but I keep wondering where the disconnect is between the US unemployment rate and IT departments. And if there is a disconnect, as there seems to be from looking at the data, I am grateful on both your behalf and my own. The rest of the IT Jungle team is grateful, too. None of us - you, me or them - wants to become a statistic.

Here's what I am talking about. Last Friday, the US Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics did its monthly report on employment (or lack thereof) in America, and the news was not good. The latest BLS models (and it is a model, since these figures are seasonally adjusted) indicate that 651,000 people lost their jobs in February, boosting the total number of people who have been knocked out of work since the recession began in December 2007 to just a bit more than 4.4 million.

The unemployment rate is now 8.1 per cent, and it was hovering around 4.5 per cent in late 2006 and early 2007, before the full extent of the mortgage and derivatives mess was known. The number of people unemployed in December and January were revised upward, by the way, so in a month, the February unemployment numbers could be revised upward as well.

The monthly BLS report doesn't track IT jobs directly, but does track job gains and losses by industry at a fairly fine level of detail. So you can sort of track the IT vendor community's employment status in the States even if you can't get a good picture of IT departments. It would be far better, as I have argued, for the BLS to do its industry tracking, as it currently does, but also track jobs by title. Then we could reckon how MIS managers or programmers are doing out there.

Anyway, if you add up the bits of the monthly report that are IT-related - computer and electronic component manufacturers, telecommunications companies, data processing and other services, and computer systems design - then 15,400 jobs were deleted in February. That's using the seasonally adjusted data.

If you just look at the raw data, computer and electronic makers employed 1.25 million people in February 2008, but that number is now 54,000 people lower as of February 2009. (I don't trust seasonally adjusted numbers except in a normal, growing economy - and maybe not even then.) Employment in data processing services was 265,400 a year ago, but has shed 12,700 people. The telecom biz had 1.03 million people a year ago, but now has 36,700 fewer people.

Here's the funny bit: using the raw data, companies engaged in computer systems design and related services had 1.42 million people on the payroll in February 2008, and using the unadjusted data, this has grown by 32,300 according to the BLS. So if these four areas are indicators of the overall IT vendor community, the net loss in jobs for the whole year is 71,100 jobs against a base of 2.55 million employees in February 2008. This is about as bad as the economy as a whole, which (again, using the unadjusted numbers) has shed just over four million of the 136.4 million jobs that were there in February 2008. The overall U.S. economy has lost 2.9 per cent of its jobs by this math (that is not the same thing as the unemployment rate) compared to 2.8 per cent of jobs for this IT vendor segment I have carved out of the BLS data.

Now, what has me a bit perplexed is why some chief information officers are adding staff. With IT spending down, the experts at Robert Half Technology who recently polled 1,400 CIOs say that eight per cent of CIOs will hire new people in the second quarter, with only six per cent saying they will drop IT employees; 83 per cent of those polled said they would keep staffing levels the same, leaving three per cent who seemed to be too confused to answer the question.

RHT polled companies in the United States with 100 or more employees to get a sense of what is going on, and while that net two per cent increase in companies hiring is a lot smaller than the eight per cent CIOs reported in the first quarter, it is still positive.

"Not surprisingly, companies are being more judicious when hiring in today’s economic environment," explains Dave Willmer, executive director at RHT. "Budgets must support critical IT projects, and companies are re-examining their staffing needs accordingly. Among the areas where demand remains stable are help desk and technical support, and networking."

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.