U.S. Jobs: Slow Growth Overall, IT Employment On the Rise

Out of town on a family visit last week, I'm just now catching up with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers for June 2017. While those numbers show an overall employment picture that isn't much changed from the previous month, jobs added numbers are more encouraging.


Better yet, the CompTIA Employment Tracker for July 2017 shows some especially nice trends emerging in our home sector of Information Technology (IT).


Some Good News from IT Sector Employment!


The chart included with this blog post comes from that CompTIA report, and shows the overall employment situation for the IT sector:


Ed T 7 14 2017 Figure 1

Source: CompTIA IT Employment Tracker July 2017


Of the various subsectors that CompTIA tracks within IT, 4 of 5 were up in June 2017 — computer, electronics and semiconductor manufacturing; data processing, hosting and related services; other information services, including search portals; and IT and software services plus computer systems design.


The only down subsector in IT for June was telecommunications, down by 700 jobs for the month and, according to CompTIA's June jobs numbers press release, down nearly 44,000 jobs for the year (43,800, to be more precise).


That same press release includes the following observations that buttress the notion that IT trends are moving mostly upward:


? IT sector employment has increased by almost 62,000 jobs during the first half of 2017.
? Employment in IT services and custom software has led the way forward, adding 99,000 jobs during this six-month period.


The CompTIA VP of Research and Market intelligence commented that, "In the dynamic tech sector, it's not uncommon for companies to be in hiring mode, while also shedding workers. Tech companies pursuing new opportunities in cloud, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, or big data, for example, may shift resources to these areas, while scaling back in legacy product lines."


IT occupations in industries outside the Information sector (those that provide IT support to companies and organizations not directly engaged in IT business, per se) showed a gain of 117,000 jobs for June, which reversed the 107,000 decline reported in May 2017. Nevertheless, CompTIA reports that "on the year, net IT occupation jobs remain in negative territory."


Thus, while not all the employment news from the IT labor market is positive, overall modest growth and an increase in IT sector hiring continues unabated for 2017 so far.


What's Up with the Rest of the Jobs Numbers?


U.S. jobs June 2017 workers

June 2017 shows a return to the recent norm for jobs growth, with 222,000 jobs added for that month across all sectors of the workforce. Unemployment is little changed, and still at a recent historic low of 4.4 percent. Labor force participation rate at 62.8 percent is holding mostly steady, as is the employment-to-population ratio of 60.1 percent.


Health care remains a bright spot, with 37,000 jobs added in that sector for June (of which 26,000 were in ambulatory health care services and 12,000 in hospitals). Employment in social assistance work (most in individual and family services and child daycare services, net gain 23,000 job) and financial activities (net gain 17,000 jobs for June and 169,000 so far for 2017) is also up.


Food services and drinking establishments employment increased by 29,000 jobs in June, and professional and business services were up by 35,000 jobs for that same month. Wages continue to grow very slowly, with average hourly earnings up by $0.04 per hour to $26.25 for June.


Wage growth for the year so far is up by 2.5 percent, or $0.63 per hour. If this holds steady for the rest of the year, this could produce 5 percent wage growth: a definite sign of economic improvement.


Jobs numbers for April and May also received an upward boost in the latest jobs report: April jumped from 174,000 to 207,000 (an increase of almost 16 percent) and May went from 138,000 to 152,000 (more than 9 percent). Average monthly job gains for the past three months now stand at 194,000, a distinct improvement over the roughly 180,000 average as of the end of May.


I'd like to see this number climb above 200K and stay there. We'll have to see if circumstances permit this wish to come true.


Overall, there's more to like than dislike in the latest jobs report. That said, we're still on a course of slow and relatively modest growth. Those hoping for a steeper slope in the growth curve thanks to the ascent of a new, pro-business administration will have to keep waiting for that change to show itself, if recent reports are any indication of what still lies ahead. We'll see!


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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.