This morning the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released the employment numbers for August, 2009. These numbers aren’t especially good: they reversed the modest trend from June and July during which time the unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged at around 9.4 percent. The August numbers show a loss of 466,000 jobs which increased overall unemployment to 9.7 percent, and included jumps in unemployment rates for adult men (to 10.1 percent), whites (to 8.9 percent), and Hispanics (to 13.0 percent). The total number of unemployed persons reported rose to 14.9 million Americans.
I don’t see many glimmers of hope for IT professionals in these numbers, either. Table A-11 “Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker, not seasonally adjusted” shows that the information category has experienced unemployment of 358,000 up from 144,000 in August of 2008, which represents a jump in unemployment rates from 4.2 percent (2008) to 10.7 percent (2009). For those IT professionals who may be classified under the heading of professional and business services instead, the corresponding figures are equally grim: 961,000 in 2008 (6.9 %) versus 1,560,000 in 2009 (11.0 %). Ouch!
What’s my verdict for the present situation: “sit tight, and make no sudden or rash moves” remains the watchword for the foreseeable future. Though we may have seen some indicators that the recession has bottomed out, it still hasn’t helped to turn the IT employment situation around just yet. Hang in there, because it looks like we might still hit the 10-plus-percent values this fall that economists predicted for the trough of the recession. I sincerely hope we see some reversals in the employment declines, especially for the industry and worker categories related to IT, not only because that’s where I work (and you, too, most likely, if you’re reading this) but because IT is so often the engine that helps to drive recovery and improvement forward.