Is the tech industry immune to current financial mess?

In the face of the generally gloomy hiring and financial situation in the US and around the world, the high-tech industry added 78,300 jobs between January and July of 2008, a minuscule but significant 1.3 % rise, for a total of 5.92 million. The increase marks the fourth straight year high-techies added jobs, according to the American Electronics Association's (AeA) which conducted the job study.  The AeA survey is compiled from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Employment Survey.

The job growth is less than the 111,400 tech jobs added during the same period in 2007, however and the January to July 2008 tech job growth lags that of the U.S. private sector, which rose by 2.0% over that period, the AeA said.  

High-tech services employment is up, adding 80,800 jobs in the US from January to July of 2008.  This represents a 1.8 % rise, the AeA study noted.  The most significant growth occurred in engineering and tech services, which added 50,000 jobs, a 3.1% rise.  Software services added 42,300 jobs, a 2.6 % rise.  Communications services decreased by 11,500 jobs, or less than 1%  from January to July of 2008.

The AeA survey seems to back up a another recent study of more than 1,400 U.S. CIOs found that 11% plan to hire additional staff in the fourth quarter of this year, while 3% expect cuts.  The net 8% result fell short of the 10% projected last quarter, according to IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology, which has commissioned the studies on a quarterly basis since 1995.

Help-desk and tech-support jobs are expected to grow the most. The top skill in demand is network administration, which was cited by 70% of respondents. Windows Server 2000 and 2003 administration and desktop support came next, both with 69%.

Other studies have shown less positive results. A more recent tally from the CIO Executive Board revealed strikingly different spending plans. The late September survey of some 50 CIOs by the association for IT executives showed that more than half of those polled have put nonessential projects on hold and about one-fourth have decided to freeze IT hiring. And 61% of those surveyed admitted they were re-evaluating their 2009 budgets.

Now all the news from the AeA study wasn't good either. High-tech US manufacturing jobs  are down in the first seven months of 2008, continuing a 19 month downward trend. Technology manufacturers lost 2,500 jobs during the period for a total of 1.28 million jobs -- a less then 1% decrease.

In July the AeA said IT jobs are hot, particularly in Seattle and New York. In fact 50 of the 60 cities in a wide-ranging survey had high-tech job growth in 2006, the latest year data were available. 

Seattle added the most jobs at 7,800, followed by the New York Metro Area, which added 6,400 and Washington, DC, which added 6,100. Riverside-San Bernardino saw the fastest job growth in 2006 at 12% according to the AeA Cybercities 2008: An Overview of the High-Technology Industry in the Nation's Top 60 Cities report that looks at all things related to high-tech employment, from wages, establishments, payroll, employment concentration, and wage differential.

Also on July, job search experts at Jobfox listed a number of jobs it called recession proof.  The good news for those trying to find work in the technology field was that high-tech jobs held down the Top 20 most recession-proof professions including Software Design/Development, Networking/System Administration, Business Administration (Software Implementation), Testing/Quality Assurance, Database Administration and Technology Executive.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in