October 09, 2012, 8:52 AM — One month does not make a trend, but IT employment dipped last month after a long stretch of gains.
Analysts can only speculate as to the reasons for the decline. It may be an indication of market volatility, a short pause in hiring, or concerns over the so-called U.S. "fiscal cliff."
Overall global IT spending is being adjusted downward. Last month, JPMorgan, Forrester and IDC all lowered their IT spending forecast for the year. The analysts blame Europe's instability and a consumer pullback in China, but see the U.S. as an overall stronger IT market.
The Brookings Institution, in an update of an economic index prepared with the Financial Times, said the U.S. economy, when compared globally, "remains the sole bright spot with economic activity, employment and financial markets all showing unexpected although still modest strength. There are signs housing markets have stabilized in many hard-hit areas, which could set the stage for a rebound in consumer demand."
This is what IT labor market analysts are reporting, based on their respective analyses of government data:
- Foote Partners reported a decline of 1,700 jobs in the IT labor market categories that it tracks, the first monthly decline it has seen since August 2010 -- 25 months ago -- that was not associated with a labor strike or other market anomaly.
- Janco Associates put last month's IT employment decline at 6,600, based on the categories it tracks.
- TechServe Alliance, an industry group that tracks the broader IT labor market in the U.S., says IT employment fell about .16%, which would put the jobs decline at approximately 6,900 out of an overall IT estimate of nearly 4.2 million jobs.
"These numbers are volatile," and will change month to month, said Mark Roberts, the CEO of TechServe.
"I would not read too much into to it at this point. I think on balance, demand is strong," Roberts said. "If we were to see month over month declines for several months that would be more indicative of a trend."
David Foote, the CEO of Foote Partners, called last month's decline "stunning," but sees it as nothing more than a market blip.
Other than Hewlett Packard's announced layoffs, there have been no major job reductions in the tech industry, Foote said. HP announced earlier this year that it is laying off 29,000, or about 8% of its workforce, through 2014.