How Safe is Your IT Job?


IT employment is hitting record highs. Can the wave last as economic uncertainty looms? While the latest government job figures spelled bad news for the U.S. workforce, but have no fear, IT pros: your bunch has grown bigger than ever.

CIO Insight's analysis of second-quarter job data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics finds the IT workforce topping 4 million for the first time, while unemployment sits near record lows.

Pretty strange, eh? A few months back, we polled IT executives about their spending plans for the year. At the time, economic uncertainty was truly sinking in, and some of us expected some rather dire predictions. And when times get tough, job security gets tougher to maintain.

But not so, apparently.

Our survey found that the percentage of IT budgets devoted to staffing dropped ever so slightly from last year, from 33 percent to 32 percent.

In the same study, IT execs ranked cutting IT staff rather low as a money-saver. Fifty percent of respondents or more pointed to infrastructure consolidation, virtualization and replacing legacy systems well above reducing staff, which was cited by only 11 percent.

Sure, that was a few months ago, and impressions can change overnight. (Not to mention that firms, including Forrester Research have downgraded their IT spending forecasts for the year.

What's the story at your company? Any staff reductions? Or are you hiring? Tell us what's happening.


13 Comments for "How Safe is Your IT Job?"

  • Anonymous July 15, 2008 1:46 pm

    Just laid off another 10 percent of IT in NYC in dribs and drabs over the last couple of months. Our offshoring initiatives are moving forward very well, so more jobs will go in the fall.

  • UNIXMan July 11, 2008 12:24 pm

    I think that part of the problem with the IT job market is greed. Because we are conditioned to believe we must live in a $2M house and drive a $70K car, we need to make more money than than is practical for full-time, permanent positions. It's not for me, but I know some who make a good living on contracts and consulting work. Not always a steady gig, but it brings in the cash and gives you a few weeks' vacation every year. It is easier for a company to hire a contracted specialist than it is to hire a full-time specialist and provide additional training. That's part of why we must deal with item 4 on the list provided by Stop Whining. On the other hand, if you know what you're doing, you'll make what you've grown accustomed to. As for the others' complaints about the H1-B issue, I have to agree that it is much cheaper to hire two visa holders who will accept $50K than to hire one citizen who won't take a job paying less than $150K. Dollars and cents, I know, but it's a sad reality of life. And even if together they do only 75% of the job, the company comes out ahead. The bigger issue with technology jobs (and, I tend to believe, many other fields as well) is that the level of education is very poor. I've seen and worked with hundreds of people with impressive credentials, but there are less than five of them whom I would trust with the corporate jewels. It is pathetic that our education system has devolved into nothing more than a test preparation. Less and less "new blood" that I've seen is actually capable of analyzing a problem before "resolving" it with one of three stock solutions learned in school. In the event that one of these might be a viable approach, the accredited programmer cannot apply a logical algorithm to perform the task for lack of understanding what actually needs to be done. All he/she knows is PHP syntax. It is far better to know the entire cycle and protocols of a service (email, for instance?) or a concept (relational database, perhaps?) than to know the specifics of a particular brand. The best Exchange administrator I've ever met never received any Microsoft training; but he knows ALL there is to know about email and RDBs. The unfortunate effect of the education problem is that we live in a world where low level positions require high level degrees. Logic dictates that with higher educational achievement comes higher levels of skill. No idea on the numbers, but I can guarantee this is FAR less than 100% true. My email admin friend is stuck, in a way -- he's bored and looking for a new job, but he doesn't have the Masters everyone is looking for. Somewhere in India, there's 3 guys with Masters degrees who'll do my friend's job 24x7, and it will cost his company less than to pay him. Something's wrong here.

  • Cliff Samuels Jr. July 11, 2008 11:00 am

    I believe that the employment situation depends on your geographic location. Here in Michigan, IT employment exists mainly as temp assignments. I found my current full-time employment through a professional networking group, BDPA, but I was out of work for 15 months. I had a few offers prior but all the positions were 3-6 month assignments with no extensions. The recruiting firms are hiring for 3-12 month positions with the promise of full-time employment, but as we know, once you complete the project, out you go. So the article is correct but needs to include the length of employment offered.

  • Work Hard and Harder!!! July 11, 2008 10:29 am

    Well, IT is an industry where technology changes at much faster pace than any other industry. People want the same old salary while keeping their 1990s skills and stubborn about not updating them. Well, if you go for a job hunt and have current skills and excellent communication skills (which aliens don't), surely you will land up with better paying jobs. Conclusion is, today the U.S. economy is passing thru globalization, and you cannot blame hardworking people from other side of planet to snatch your bread and butter. Be a martyr, accept globalization, sharpen yourself and challenge every other IT fellow on the earth.

  • OverWorked July 11, 2008 9:42 am

    Huh ... unemployed?! Learn PHP and you can make a living off Craigslist gigs ads.

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