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US adds 151,000 October jobs

IT on the up

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Two somewhat good pieces of economic news might have helped the Obama Administration during election week had they come out before Black Red Tuesday rather than after it. The first was the $600bn quantitative easing (QE2) by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernacke announced the day after the election and the second was today's jobs report out of the Department of Labor, which showed the economy adding 151,000 jobs in October.

With 14.8 million people still unemployed, the unemployment rate static at 9.6 per cent, and the US needing to create 100,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth, the relatively good jobs report (relative to some weak ones in recent months, that is) would not have done a huge amount of good for the Democrats. But since December 2009, which was the bottom of the Great Recession, the economy has added 1.1 million private sector workers.

During October, private sector jobs actually rose by 159,000 in the US, with the Federal government shedding most of the census workers in prior months. Professional and business services companies (some of them in the IT racket in one shape or form) added 35,000 workers in October and have added 451,000 workers since their trough in September 2009.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which puts together the monthly jobs report (which you can see here), called out the computer systems design and related services segment of the economy in the October report, saying that after seasonally adjusting the figures, these tech companies added 8,000 workers in October and have added 53,000 jobs since the trough in this sector in June 2009.

Healthcare companies added 24,000 workers in October and have added 244,000 jobs in the past twelve months; retailers added 28,000 jobs in October, and have expanded employment by 128,000 since the low of December 2009 in this sector. Government employment was flat in October across local, state, and Federal branches, but local governments keep slashing people to close budget gaps.

Some 14,000 people lost their jobs in local government across the country in October, and 123,000 have lost their jobs in the past year. The Feds hired a peak of 564,000 census workers, peaking in May and bleeding down to the remaining 1,000 employees still trying to do the body count in October.

The BLS doesn't track employment by job title, so we can't really see the effect of the economy on jobs directly related to IT functions. But you can look through the raw data by company type and get an indirect feel for at least some IT employers. Among manufacturers, the BLS calculates that computer and electronics manufacturers now employ just over 1.1 million people, up 2,300 from the prior month.

Within this group, computer and peripheral equipment makers have 161,400 people on the payroll, up a mere 200 in October. Communication equipment makers have 123,300 workers, up 1,200 from September. Semiconductor and electronic component makers added 500 jobs and account for 368,900 workers across the 50 states.

Within the information sector, which includes all kinds of publishing and entertainment as well as telecommunications and various data processing services, telcos added 3,600 jobs in October after months of slashing and now employ 916,800 workers. Companies engaged in data processing, hosting, and related services added 2,000 jobs in October, with a total of 245,200 workers at the end of the month. In the professional and business services sector, companies in the computer systems design and related services biz have just under 1.48 million workers (using the raw data), up 16,900 employees. Management and technical consulting services firms employed just over 1 million people in October, an increase of 13,500 people since September. ®

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