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Good and Bad News on IT Jobs Front

While there's a sense of optimism surrounding the greater IT jobs market, insurance IT pros face much gloomier prospects.

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the IT job market on the eve of 2011. First, the good news: The numbers seem to suggest that most of the layoffs in the IT world have slowed in 2010. Now the bad news: According to multiple reports, while there is an uptick in hiring, it's sluggish at best. But despite the bad, there's still optimism.

Drilling down to the hard numbers, Janco Associates Inc. released a report yesterday lamenting that the slight increase in IT jobs in November was not enough to absorb the pool of available IT graduates and unemployed IT professionals.

The IT management consulting firm says that total employment in IT increased only 0.17% in November (seasonally adjusted, based on data from the December 2010 U.S. Department of Labor National Employment Report).

"There has been a slight increase in employment numbers in system design and I.T. services and other information services," says Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis. "This has not been enough to absorb the displaced employees from prior periods nor address the issue of recent entrants into the IT job market who cannot find work. "

Total IT employment, seasonally adjusted, reached 2,781,200 in November, up less than 0.1% from October and 0.17% from November 2009—an increase of merely 4,800 jobs, the report finds.

When looking specifically at job prospects for the insurance industry, depending on the line of business, things aren't looking particularly rosy for IT professionals.

"Health care looks like it is a positive growth market, which is driven by the aging population, mandated electronic records requirements and the new health care bill," Janulaitis tells INN. "Financial services and insurance, on the other hand, is in the depths of the economic downturn and continues to outsource activities and consolidate operations—not a good omen for those looking for employment. "

But on the brighter side, a recent report from IDC  indicates that the market intelligence firm believes that overall tech spending in 2011 will be nearly double what was spent this year (a prediction of 5.7% worldwide growth versus 3% growth this year).

Adding to the optimism, Computer Economics' "Outlook for IT Spending and Staffing in 2011" study says the year ahead will not only be a time for rebuilding, but also for innovation. The study, which is based on answers from 136 IT organizations in the United States and Canada during Q4, forecasts that IT operational spending will increase by 2% at the median.

Based on responses, the research and advisory services firm believes that spending will still be restrained, and IT departments will continue to be asked to work under the "more with less" mantra, but they also will receive the green light to take risks with projects that promise long-term improvements in the ability of IT to support new business initiatives. But there's still a catch. "The message seems to be that while companies are increasing IT operational spending, the commitment is still soft, and IT executives are willing to pay a bit of a premium to maintain a flexible workforce," Computer Economics writes.

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The December 2010 U.S. Department of Labor National Employment Report, showed a slight increase for IT-related jobs in November, following a gain of jobs in September and October. . Janco tracks ups and downs in employment in five key job categories - IT services, computer systems design, data processing and telecommunications. Data for the past 12 months shows a minor gain in jobs for Information Services and computer systems design and related services.

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