Are you getting stiffed as the IT budget rises?

Is it more important to reward people, or to start buying stuff again?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average U.S. salary rose an almost-noticeable 0.3 percent (PDF) during the third quarter of this year, though the Consumer Price Index that tracks the cost of everything you buy in your personal life rose 1.2 percent, so consumers in metro areas actually lost 0.9 percent of salary.

The IT business and people with the skills to work in it are supposed to be doing a little better, especially given plans for IT budgets this year.

I posted a piece yesterday mentioning that Bangalore-based outsourcer Infosys employs almost 15,000 people in the U.S. and is hiring more. (The point was that Equinix, Virtacore and other cloud-service and cloud-infrastructure vendors are hiring almost exclusively in the U.S. because that's where they can find the skills.

I also mentioned a Forrester announcement that its newer research shows IT will have less to spend on technology than it thought earlier in the year.

That lower amount is still something like 9 percent, which is backed up by Gartner and IDC, both of which expect growth in IT spending of around 5 percent.

A lot of that money goes to "IT Debt," maintenance, repairs and replacements on older machines and software that haven't been fixed for a while because the money wasn't available.

So no one expects all that money to be going directly to the help deskers with frustration-patterned baldness from pulling their hair out after talking to users, the IT project managers with finger-shaped tan lines on their faces from the amount of time they spend in facepalm during and after business-unit project meetings and/or CIOs -- well, they do OK for the usually short amount of time they're allowed to stick around, so we won't worry about them for now.

IT people at large companies scraped their way to 0.38 percent raises on average between 2009 and 2010, according to surveys from PSRInc, which is owned by consultancy and IT-industry research company Janco Associates SMBs were stuck with increases of just 0.11 percent.

That's not exactly rich, but remember we're coming out of what blogger Timothy Morgan said at the beginning of 2009 was an ordeal that makes the dot-bomb look like "a cake walk."

He, like me, is a journalist, not a real person, let alone a real IT person, but he writes for a site that focuses on IBM's iSeries and AS/400, so I'm guessing when he says he can identify bleakness and depression in a market, he's telling the truth.

So are you seeing any of the extra cash yourself? Industry consortium TechAmerica Foundation's surveys showed IT organizations cut 143,000 jobs last year and have brought only 30,200 of them back -- so about one in five.

There's a lot of rent-to-own, without a lot of the 'own' at the end of the contract, though many of the rent contracts seem to get renewed pretty regularly.

Janco's survey of more than 300 end user companies shows the average of all IT professionals got 0.67 percent more in compensation this year than last, and that staff (1.27 percent) and middle managers ( 1.07 percent) did best of any other category not specifically delimited by a particular technology skill. (If you're a wizard VMware/Microsoft/Citrix virtual-server administrator and cloud-services platform architect with network and 4G wireless security skills and experience developing for the next generation of iPhone and unannounced features of Android, you can probably get a raise or job offer with at least a double-digit percentage increase over last year.

As far as I know, however, that person will be featured in an upcoming Hollywood film inspired by a comic book, but will be panned like Jar-Jar Binks for being far to annoying to hire, let alone not actually existing.

What are you seeing in raises and job openings? Are you stuck where you are because there's nowhere to go? Stuck on a fixed income because any extra dollars trickling into the IT budget have to go for duct tape to keep pieces from falling off the server grid?

Or are you finding yourself treated like a human in an organization going through tough financial times, that allows managers to give deserving employees an afternoon off, takes everyone out to lunch occasionally, or eases up a little on the high-pressure minutiae to make things easier on a workforce that's already getting pinched from too many directions?

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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