I can’t say I’m unduly sorry to see 2010 come to an end. For most of this year, the IT job market (and career development activity) has been going sideways rather than significantly up or down. In fact, we saw only bare increases at any time during the year for either general or IT employment, with no truly savage dips in either area to mark a downturn or an adventure into double-dip recession territory.
For far too long now (about 18 months by my reckoning) we’ve been in what I’ve often called the “hunker down” position, where neither major ups nor downs for this fairly grim situation means we need to hold onto what we’ve got and wait for things to get better. On the other hand, for the under- or unemployed this has remained a horribly grim period in which prospects for meaningful employment are far too few, and hopes for the future slim to nonexistent.
Will things pick up in 2011? Employment experts and economists are as uncertain as the rest of us. Some think things will improve and point to the past four months of consumer spending increases as a good sign that the economy could and very well may get rolling in 2011. Others point to the extremely narrow margins of job growth over the past year (where new jobs topped 200,000 in a given month only once), and say we’re in for a long tough struggle back to health and unemployment in the “healthy” 5-6 percent range. I heard one economist on NPR say that at current rates of growth it will take 25 years to bring unemployment back down into the so-called healthy range, but he didn’t indicate whether that was a consequence of boomers and gen-Xers aging out of the work force, or a genuine improvement in the overall employment situation.
All I can say is “Ouch!” And while I’m hoping for the best along with everybody else, I’m certainly not ready to start throwing my money around, or investing at all speculatively. As long as hiring permanent employees feels “speculative” to companies and organizations of all sizes, I don’t think we’re likely to see our situation change much any time soon — and perhaps not at all in 2011. Cross your fingers (and any other idle appendages you might have at your disposal) and wish for positive changes and developments. Let’s see if 2011 can’t represent some kind of turning point for the better!
Oh! And the happiest of New Year’s to you and your families, with best wishes from me and mine.