At the end of the year, it’s traditional to look back at what’s happened and to wonder about what’s coming next. For those toiling in IT — or wishing they were doing so — it’s only natural to think about the job situation and prospects, so that’s where I’m going in this blog.
2009: A Year of Ups and Downs Ends Up Just a Little
As we’ve examined the various monthly employment situation summaries from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics over this year, we’ve seen ongoing job losses across the economy every month, most at levels of 130,000 or higher. Last month (November ’09, that is) we saw a relative ray of sunshine as job losses only fell by 11,000 — down considerably from the preceding months, and way below most economists’ expectations.
If only things in IT were likewise looking up. Thus, for example, even though lots of prognosticators, from the analysts to The Economist foresee some improvement in IT for 2010 and modest 2-5% increases in IT spending for 2010, 2009 was a year in which job losses in IT outpaced those for the general economy and trailed only behind the extremely hard-hit manufacturing and construction sectors. IT professionals have watched their prospects grow dimmer, raises evaporate, and opportunities for advancement be put on hold while employers and employees alike wait for things to impove…and wait…and wait…and wait some more. For 2010 it looks like the wait will continue.
2010: Modest Improvements May Not Do Much to Change the Status Quo
As I’ve said in many blogs this year, IT folks need to chant the “Be calm. Sit tight. Wait for things to improve.” mantra to keep their bearings in these difficult times. Although I believe that some opportunities and jobs will start popping up in 2010, I’m also convinced that the jobs lost in the IT sector will not be replaced by the end of 2010, and probably not even by the end of 2011. Of course, I would love to be wrong, and even to be labeled a curmudgeonly pessimist in the face of a better-than-expected recovery and/or a boom (or even a boomlet) in the IT sector. But would anybody care to take the optimist’s side of this bet? I think not.
Thus, the need for the aforementioned IT mantra remains unaltered for 2010, and possibly even into 2011 and beyond. Everyone will be looking for signs of growth, recovery, and improvement, so we’ll all be sure to hear about them as they occur. We may have turned the corner on the recession, but there’s still a LOT of hill to climb before we get back to where we were in 2006-2007. So please: Repeat after me “Be calm. Sit tight. Wait for things to improve.”
And also the best of holiday seasons and a joyous New Year to all of you. My next blog will suggest some end-of-year points to ponder for career planning and development, as the first of a series of personal and professional tune-ups to help anticipate your 2010 resolutions.