At the end of each calendar year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revisits that year’s employment figures “using updated seasonal adjustment factors,” to quote from the text box at the top of this morning’s Employment Situation Summary for December, 2012. They also delivered a slight adjustment for November in Table A by raising the unemployment rate for that month from 7.7 to 7.8 percent, but that number remained unchanged for December of 2012 as well. Looking at the progression in Table A for the year (see following screen cap), we see a slow and careful downward progression from the 8.3 rate that applied last January to the current 7.8 level for the final month of last year (current report, archives).
A closer look at the information sector (a big source of IT jobs), professional and business services (the primary locus for outsourced IT services), and the self-employed (where my personal situation dictates some interest as well) shows that things haven’t really changed all that much over the past year, with increases in unemployment for information (7.7 percent for 2011 vs. 8.0 percent for 2012, though overall unemployment numbers are down from 235K to 229K over that period, reflecting an slight decrease in overall unemployed persons for the sector) and self-employment (from 5.5 percent for 2011 vs. 5.6 for 2012, but with an increase from 539K to 566K unemployed persons in the same period). Professional and business services show a larger decrease in unemployment numbers (from 1403K in 2011 to 1307K in 2012) echoed by a similar drop in unemployment rates (from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 8.7 percent in 2012).
Overall, us IT types would do well to remember my unchanged mantra since 2009 — namely “Hunker down. Stay put.” to which I’ll also add “Don’t panic.” and “Wait it out.” The overall trend does continue to improve ever so slowly and gradually, so sooner or later that’s got to start boosting the fortunes for IT workers, too. As to when that might happen, I really don’t know. I continue to hope that an uptick will come sooner rather than later, knowing all the while that it will come in its own good or bad time, if it comes at all.