Careers: IT Employment Bucks National Trend

IT has experienced relatively healthy job growth in the U.S. during a period when job growth as a whole remained stagnant

Look at this month’s National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (NACCB) IT employment index and you'll find two things: good news and great news.

Last month, the NACCB reported that employment for IT pros rose by nearly one-quarter of one percent (0.23 percent) to 3,525,600. That’s may seem like an underwhelming figure, but it could have been a lot worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), non-farm, payroll employment was essentially unchanged in October, growing by about 56,000 jobs. That’s good news, actually, for all Americans, especially with the U.S. as a whole, and the Southeast in particular, struggling with the economic aftershocks of Hurricane Katrina.

To put things in perspective, however, the NACCB says IT employment increased by 8,200, accounting, in other words, for about one in seven new jobs the BLS says were added in October.

There’s always a danger of apples-to-oranges comparisons whenever survey-gathering and statistics are at issue; and the NACCB’s survey, based on a study of staffing patterns for a dozen IT- and computer-related occupations in 16 industries and verticals, isn’t nearly as comprehensive (or as methodologically trusted, for that matter) as that of the BLS. Even so, there’s certainly basis for comparison here.

If nothing else, the report shows relatively healthy IT job growth in the U.S. during a period when job growth as a whole remained stagnant.

More importantly, October’s IT job growth reversed a decline in September. It also helped boost year-over-year IT job growth. In fact, the NACCB says, IT employment was up by 1.2 percent from October of 2004.

“I am pleased to see the October report and year-over-year index reflect continued growth in IT employment,” said NACCB CEO Mark Roberts in a statement. “The positive report reflected by the IT Employment Index was further supported by the upbeat sentiment of attendees of the NACCB Annual Conference in Los Angeles.”

IT job growth is still off its pre-Katrina August peak, however. At that point, the NACCB estimates, there were 3,544,000 IT jobs.

The NACCB is a national trade association that represents IT staffing firms. It says its IT Employment Index is pegged to the BLS’ own monthly data.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.