2011 a Banner Year for IT Hiring?

The water is building up behind the dam. More and more, it’s looking like 2011 could be a banner year for IT hiring…isn’t that amazing?

The key piece of evidence: Online help-wanted ads for computer and mathematical occupations are up 56% over a year ago, and well over their pre-bust peak. That’s according to data from The Conference Board. *

This category of help-wanted ads includes companies looking for the full range of IT occupations: computer software engineers, computer support specialists, network administrators, web developers, computer programmers and the like.**

On one level, this rise in labor demand is not surprising, since the communications boom–including mobile, video, social networking, online shopping, and all sorts of other applications–is driving a commensurate boom in IT spending. With business spending on computers, software, and communications equipment is now almost 10% above pre-bust levels, it’s no wonder that companies have an absolute crying need for more skilled IT workers.

So far, however, businesses have been holding off from actual hiring. Data from the BLS suggests that the number of people actually employed in IT occupations has not risen as fast as the want ads. Employment in computer and mathematical occupations now stands at 3.4 million, well below its recent peak.

My intepretation, though, is that the hiring pressure is gotten strong enough to break the dam, especially with Obama having just signed the new tax bill. Companies have just been waiting to make sure that the global economy doesn’t fall back into a deep funk again, and a hefty dose of fiscal stimulus is just the thing.

I’m predicting a big jump in IT hiring as soon as the new year starts…and it’s about time.

*The labor demand data is from The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) data series, http://www.conference-board.org/data/helpwantedonline.cfm

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About Michael Mandel 126 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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