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IT Job growth will be anemic


by Patrick Thibodeau

Biennial BLS update says offshoring will limit growth in some occupations, while healthcare IT provides a boost

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that offshoring will hurt the growth of U.S. programming jobs in over the rest of this decade, though expansion of healthcare IT and mobile networks will in turn increase demand for software developers, support technicians and systems analysts.

By 2020, employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22%, but some IT fields will fare better than others, according to the BLS biennial update of employment projections.

Demand for software developers will be the strongest in this period, with increases ranging from 28% to 32%, depending on the type of software development.

The agency's forecasts, particularly for technology-related jobs, are often controversial because they can't account for rapid market changes and tech disruptions. But its estimates are often cited in various policy debates on issues ranging from education to immigration.

The IT employment growth rate projected by the BLS was characterized as "anemic" by Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, a research firm that analyzes IT wage and employment trends.

"When you consider the overall demand for systems and applications in high-growth markets like China and India, [the BLS projections] mean the U.S. will be doing a diminishing portion of the development and implementation work," said Janulaitis. "If that's the case, the U.S. will no longer be the leader in IT.

"The BLS projections are a bad sign for the U.S. IT graduates from universities. Those numbers do not cover the net growth necessary to give all of the graduates jobs," Janulaitis added.

Job growth 10 year forecast

Job title May 2010 employment 2020 jobs forecast Job growth 10 year forecast Pct 10 year job growth forecast
Software developers, systems software 392,300 519,400 127,100 32%
Database administrators 110,800 144,800 34,000 31%
Network & computer system admins 347,300 443,800 96,500 28%
Software developers, applications 520,800 664,500 143,700 28%
Computer systems analyst 544,400 664,800 120,400 22%
Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects 302,300 367,900 65,600 22%
Computer & information systems managers 307,900 363,700 55,800 18%
Computer support specialists 607,100 717,100 110,000 18%
Computer programmers 363,100 406,800 43,700 12%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

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