On Friday, April 1, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics posted its latest Employment Situation Summary. Employment edged down by 0.1 percent to 8.8 percent overall, and the number of jobs added for March increased by a much more encouragiong 216,000. Experts estimate monthly job increases of over 300,000 are needed to make a dent in our overall employment numbers, however, which top 14-16 million depending on how you count things (the BLS does not include long-term unemployed or “discouraged workers” who’ve been seeking employment for more than 12 months in its numbers, which tends to understate the actual situation). Still, it’s a tangible sign of improvement on the employment front.
I also finally see some signs of improvement for the IT sector in this report. Table A-14 “Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker…” shows unemployment rates for the Information sector down from 10.4 percent in March 2010 to 7.1 percent in March 2011, below the general 8.8 percent unemployment rate, in fact. But Table B-1 “Employees on nonfarm payrools by industry sector…” shows Information down by 4,000 jobs from the preceding month, with job losses in non-Internet broadcasting (-3,800), telecommunications (-1,300) and data processing (-500) not really offset by tiny job gains in publishing (100), motion picture and sound recording (200), and other information services (1,500).
At least as far as IT concerned, it seems to be a case of “one step forward, and two steps back.” I’m sure we’ll all be glad when our own sector is advancing unambiguously!