Employers Add 55,000 IT Jobs in 2nd Quarter

Still, IT Jobless Rate Remains Stuck at 5.5%, a 6½-Year High
Employers Add 55,000 IT Jobs in 2nd Quarter
Employers added some 55,000 information technology jobs during the second quarter, bringing IT employment in the United States to an annualized 3.86 million, according to an Information Security Media Group analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.

The IT workforce - those employed and the unemployed seeking info tech jobs - stood at an annualized 4.082 million during the quarter, up by 57,000 from the first quarter. That's the highest level for info tech employment and the IT workforce since the first quarter of 2009.

Still, IT unemployment remains at its highest level in 6½ years. During the second quarter, 5.5 percent of the IT workforce remained unemployed, the same percentage as in the first quarter. The number of unemployed during the April-May-June period rose by an annualized 3,000 to 223,000, our analysis reveals.

A year earlier, during the second quarter of 2009, an annualized 3.844 million IT professionals were employed out of a tech workforce of 4.007 million with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent.

When IT unemployment was last at the current level - 5.7 percent at the beginning of 2004, a period following the recession caused by the dot-com bust - tech and overall unemployment were the same. The recovery this time around is much different, with the IT unemployment ranging from about 4½ to 5½ points below the overall jobless rate.

What do these new numbers suggest? Employers are hiring IT specialists, though not at the levels during economic boom times. Yet, much has changed in the past four quarters. A year ago, the job market was contracting for IT pros, and during the first two quarters of 2009, the IT workforce shrank by an annualized 145,000. Looking at that figure another way, 145,000 people who thought of themselves as IT pros at the end of 2008 no longer did so six months later. Since then, the IT workforce has rebounded, and reclaimed all but 3,000 of those professionals who deemed themselves part of the computer profession. An increasing workforce, despite the stalled jobless rate, signals hope among IT professionals that even more employers will soon create computer-related jobs.

The government does not have special occupation designations for information security professionals; they're mostly grouped within the eight IT job titles: computer and information systems managers, computer scientists and systems analysts, computer programmers, computer software engineers, computer support specialists, database administrators, network and computer systems administrators and network systems and data communications analysts. Those eight job descriptions are among well over 400 occupation titles the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks.

Each month, the bureau conducts two surveys. The one we used to produce our analysis for this report, the establishment survey, consists of a sample of 140,000 businesses and government agencies representing some 410,000 worksites or about one-third of all nonfarm payroll employees.

Government survey-takers also interview 400,000 residences each months as part of its household survey. The bureau uses results from the household survey to report the nation's unemployment rate on the first Friday of each month, which stood at 9.5 percent in June.

Economists at the bureau and elsewhere consider the survey sample size too small to be statistically reliable for individual occupations, including IT as a group. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes employment and unemployment data on individual occupations quarterly, the bureau doesn't promote that fact; the government neither posts them on BLS.gov nor issues a press release touting the stats. They're available upon request, however.

To enhance reliability of our analysis, we aggregates a year's worth of data for each quarterly report. For example, to get the second quarter numbers reported here, we added the published employment statistics from first and second quarters of 2010 and the third and fourth quarters of 2009 and then divide by four. This process, in effect, quadruples the sample size and smoothes out some quarter-to-quarter fluctuations in the data that may occur. In effect, it's annualizing the quarterly employment numbers.

Information Security Media Group publishes BankInfoSecurity.com, CUInfoSecurity.com, GovInfoSecurity.com and HealthcareInfoSecurity.com.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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