As usual, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics published its Employment Situation Summary for June early on this month (7/2/2009). Though it shows no big changes from the previous month, it does show an unexpected spike in job losses: up from 345,000 in May to 467,000 for June–a 35% jump in a single month. This probably explains why US stock markets freaked out before the long Independence Day holiday weekend, with all major indices suffering losses of 2.4% or higher (Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ, and so forth). This morning, Asian and European markets are down as well, following the US lead set yesterday. What’s it all mean for IT workers?
For sure, things are not improving much. Overall unemployment is at 9.5% as the BLS measures same, and measures that include those unemployed long enough to qualify as “discouraged workers” or “out of the workforce” could pull measures up to around 11% or so. Personally, I think that IT isn’t faring quite so badly, and that the worst of the decline has already come and (hopefully) gone. The TechCrunch Layoff Tracker shows that numbers are down from the previous three quarters, and nowhere near the bloody end of 2008. Anecdotally and statistically, IT job postings appear to be at least modestly up in most major US metropolitan areas, with DC continuing to lead that pack toward recovery.
So why the big downswing in the markets? From my perspective, it has to be the sharp resurgence in job loss numbers causing an emotional reaction. The big picture isn’t as dire and the overall trends continue along the path of “no recovery yet, but not as bad as it was before”–perhaps this is just another exception that proves the ruling that a real recovery still remains some ways off?