IT Career JumpStart

Dec 6 2009   3:30PM GMT

“A good trend isn’t good enough”

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

The title of today’s blog comes from President Obama’s reaction to Friday’s November Employment Situation numbers in his regular Saturday address to the American people dated 12/5/2009. Here’s the complete paragraph from which that snippet was lifted:

But for those who were laid off last month and the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession, a good trend isn’t good enough. Trends don’t buy the groceries. Trends don’t pay the rent or a college tuition. Trends don’t fulfill the need within each of us to be productive, to provide for our families, to make the most of our lives, to reach for our dreams. [complete transcript]

I think he strikes the right tone, and hope I achieved the same balance he struck in that address in my Friday blog as well — namely, that while this is a tangible and welcome sign of improvement, it signals neither the end of our economic trouble nor the end of the current record-beating unemployment situation, both in general and in the IT sector in particular.

In the wake of the Friday numbers, plenty of experts have also weighed in to share the following observations:

  • Unemployment is likely to continue to rise for some time, perhaps into mid-2010 or later.
  • One encouraging result does not mean that the job situation is improving. It’s still more a matter of “it’s not as bad as it was last month/last quarter/last year” rather than a matter of “things are getting better.”
  • Such improvements as are taking effect are coming from increased activity and productivity from the current workforce rather than from outright additions to the workforce (in other words, improvement has yet to translate into actual hiring, though temp and contract jobs are finally picking up).

I think Mr. Obama is very much on the right track when he closed his address like this:

And my commitment to you, the American people, is that I will focus every single day on how we can get people back to work, and how we can build an economy that continues to make real the promise of America for generations to come.

For those of us who work in IT, the turnaround is not yet at hand. We’re going to have to keep on keeping on until the improvement in employment and spending actually translates into real, honest-to-goodness IT hiring, and a tangible improvement in prospects for those seeking advancement, entry, or re-entry into the IT workforce.

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