A Mixed Bag for IT Jobs in September
October 11, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The U.S. Department of Labor said in its latest jobs report, which came out last Friday, that the unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent in September, even as the private sector added jobs because Uncle Sam is still shedding census workers that helped pad the numbers earlier this year. And thus making the unemployment rate not be as high as it might otherwise have been.
According to the September report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the non-farm full-time employment dropped by 95,000 people last month, with Federal, state, and local government shedding 159,000 jobs. About 77,000 census workers were cut from the Fed payroll, while local governments chopped another 76,000, says the BLS, because of budget woes in the wake of the Great Recession. The U.S. government had hired 564,000 people to take part in the census this year, with that number peaking in May. There are only 6,000 census workers still on the payroll through the end of September, so this goosing effect is basically over. And so will be the drag on numbers as these workers have been shed over the summer.
Private sector companies actually added 64,000 jobs in September, which is a sign of hope for the American economy but which is a drop in the bucket against the 14.8 million people who are still officially unemployed and perhaps as many as 30 million who are, unofficially but very much really without work in the country. (Once you stop looking for work, you are not counted as unemployed any more, which seems perfectly asinine at first blush. But the government doesn’t want to freak everyone out since that usually makes matters worse when it comes to an economy. So you can understand the impulse even if we are kidding ourselves about how bad things aren’t.)
By industry, healthcare companies added 24,000 people in September, and this industry sector has been adding jobs at an average rate of 21,000 people per month. Mining companies added 6,000 workers, and companies engaged in professional and business services added 28,000 jobs. The leisure and hospitality industry added 34,000 workers last month, and has added 104,000 people since the beginning of the year. Manufacturing jobs have been flat since May, but have added 134,000 jobs this year. The housing, transportation, retail, wholesale distribution, and financial services industries were also flat in September.
The monthly BLS jobs report does not give much insight into how the IT industry is doing, since the bureau does not collect, dice, and slice data by job type but rather by the industry of the employer cutting the paycheck. The upshot of this is you can sort of get an idea of how the IT vendors are doing, but you can’t see how IT employment across all industries is doing. Yes, this is unforgivable in a modern, Smarter Planet era. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the data we have either, so let’s drill down into the IT-related sections of the jobs report.
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers in the United States added 600 jobs in September, to a total of 161,700. Communication equipment makers added 100 jobs, to 122,900, and semiconductor and electronic component makers shed 100, to 369,800. (These are raw numbers, not seasonally adjusted numbers. I like my data as raw as possible, not fudged.)
Telecommunications companies continued to shed jobs, dropping another 6,500 in September, down to 913,500. Data processing and hosting services companies cut 100 jobs, to 242,100. Even computer systems design and related services companies made some cuts last month, after apparently being too aggressive with the hiring in July and August. This sub-sector of the professional and business services sector cut 8,800 people, to just under 1.46 million total workers in the country. Management and technical consulting services companies added 4,500 jobs, to a pool of 997,700 workers.