IT Career JumpStart

Feb 25 2009   4:07PM GMT

About IT (Un)Employment: It Could Always Be Worse

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

For a quick take on the US Government’s view of the current employment situation, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary always provides a pretty current view. In reading over the most recent report–for January 2009, dated 2/6/2009–I got a strong sense of where much of the recent doom and gloom in our economic outlook comes from. Baldly over-simplified this report might be summarized as “Jobs are down all over.” Big surprise, right?

Top-line numbers certainly are scary:

  • The number of unemployed persons is up to 11.6 million and the unemployment rate is up to 7.6%. This is an increase of 4.1 million unemployed over the last year, and an increase in the rate by 2.7%.
  • Long-term unemployed persons count is holding steady at 2.7 million (people who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer), and has gone up by 1.3 million in the last year.
  • Unemployment numbers by category are also on the rise: adult men is up to 7.6%, adult women to 6.2%, whites 6.9%, blacks 12.6%, and Hispanics 9.7%; for teenagers that number is unchanged at a whopping 20.8%.

All this said, there is a glimmer of hope in these number for IT professionals. Though many other employment sectors lost significantly more ground in January (retail trade 45,000 jobs; transportation and warehousing 44,000 jobs; financial activities 42,000 jobs) professional and technical jobs were down “only” by 29,000 for the month. We IT geeks may be sucking wind, but at least we’re sucking less wind than some other sectors! On the upside, health care employment is up 19,000 (11,000 less than the average for 2008), and private education is up 33,000.

For another dash of salt on the wounds, nonfarm numbers for November were revised downward from -584,000 to -597,000 for November, 2008, and from -524,000 to -577,000 for December, 2008. All I can say to my fellow IT professionals and colleagues is “Hang in there!”

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