Earlier this week, the markets made history when the major stock indexes (Dow, S&P500, and so forth) and commodity prices both went down at the same time, and for the same reason: prospects of slowing employment in the US. Today, the markets and commodities both rebounded when the US Bureau of Labor Statistics pushed its Employment Situation Summary for April 2011 out the door and reported substantially higher numbers than had been expected. Consensus guesstimates in advance of the report put employment gains at about 140-150,000; the actual number reported this morning was a much healthier 244,000, with gains across all industries and sectors reporting.
Perhaps not to be outdone by the recent double-dip in markets and commodities, this report also features an unusual combination of number swings: at the same time that the employment number jumped to a respectable value, unemployment also edged up from 8.8 to 9.0 percent. This doesn’t happen very often, and analysts are quick to point out that employment gains and the total unemployment numbers come from different surveys and thus are not bound to agree.
And for the first time I can remember since the downturn of 2008, the Information sector is up across most of the board (see Table B-1 for details) for April. Overall, Information is up 2K jobs for the month, and only telecommunications (-1K) and data processing, hosting, and related services (-400) are down, and not by terribly much. Publishing (not including Internet) is up 1.9K jobs, and other sectors vary from 300 (motion picture and sound recording) to 800 (other information services). Computer systems design and related services is up 7.9K jobs (a very good harbinger of coming growth in IT, I believe), and management and technical consulting services are likewise up 11.3K jobs (another good sign for IT). Professional and technical services are up a whopping 33K jobs, which is a good overall indicator of real, solid growth.
Folks, we’ve been waiting for a hint of good news for IT for some time now. April, 2011, shows some real signs of improvement. Now, let’s hop it’s a trend and not a momentary glitch or hiccup!