U.S. job growth still slow, but IT outlook improving

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The latest Employment Situation Summary popped up this morning (April 4, 2014) on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (US-BLS) web pages. It not only shows decent job growth for March 2014, at a total of 192,000 new jobs added, it also revises job numbers upwards for the two preceding months, with  a bump of 15,000 jobs for January 2014 (from 129,000 to 144,000 jobs) and 22,000 for February (from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs).

This might seem like cause for celebration, but there's a dark lining to this apparently silver cloud — namely, the need for 300,000 or more new jobs per month, to start chipping away at the number of long-term unemployed persons in the U.S. Currently, the long-term unemployed represent about one-third of our total unemployed population. We also didn't see much of a drop in overall unemployment by percentage, which stands unchanged from last month at 6.7 percent.

The problem is that current growth levels are only keeping up with population growth — in other words, we're creating enough jobs to soak up new entrants into the workforce, but not enough to start making a dent in the 3.7 million people that the U.S.-BLS recognizes as constituting what it calls "long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)." With job growth at 300,000 per month, for example, it would still take over three years for that excess of unemployed people to be re-absorbed into the workforce.

In follow-up discussions on the situation this morning on NPR, (Mark Memmot, "Jobless Claims Rose Last Week," "Jobless Rate Holds Steady as Employers Add 192,000 Jobs") the radio news network's John Ydstie indicated that factors contributing to the uptick included better weather, which had more people working than in the months of December, January and February, all of which featured colder-than-average winter temperatures throughout most of the USA.

Table A-14 of the latest report also shows some subtle but encouraging news for the "Information" heading under "Industry and class of worker," where most working IT professionals are likely to be counted. Although the absolute number of unemployed Information workers is up for March 2014 versus March 2013 (161,000 for 2014 as compared to 145,000 for 2013), the percentage of unemployed information workers went down from March 2013 to March 2014.

That indicates that the total number of workers in Information professions stood at around 3.37 million in 2013, and at around 3.83 million in 2014. That indicates an increase in overall IT jobs available to workers of around 450,000 during that one-year period. That's a pretty nice number indeed, and shows improving fortunes for the Information sector overall.

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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.