It’s the first Friday of the month, and as usual, that means the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has posted its Employment Situation Summary for the preceding month (November 2009, in this case). And finally, finally, finally it shows some itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny signs of improvement: employment fell back by 0.2% from 10.2% to 10.0% and the number of jobs lost was a mere 11,000 for the month (in the preceding quarter that same average number was 135,000 per month).
Does this mean we’ve turned a corner, or is it just a momentary numbers glitch, caused perhaps by seasonal employment for the retail shopping season? Jobs are up in temporary help services and health care, but continue down in construction, manufacturing and — you guessed it — IT. I think it’s still too early to tell if this slight improvement represents a real turning point or if it’s just a momentary pause in a continuing downward slide. I’d want to see at least three or four consecutive months of improvement (and higher rates of reversal than these) before declaring an end to the continuing downward spiral that has been the US employment situation in general, and IT employment in particular, since the beginning of 2008.
That said, the decline of jobs cut for November to just 11,000 is pretty encouraging. This is the lowest such number since the recession got underway, and a big change from the numbers for August, September, and October. Also, the BLS revised the numbers for September and October to indicate that nearly 160,000 fewer jobs were lost than originally reported.
Cross your fingers, and hope for the best: perhaps we can see the corner that we would so very much like to turn. But for IT, my “sit tight” mantra remains as cogent as it has been all year long.