IT Staffing Report: May 2, 2019

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IT job growth makes ‘inauspicious’ start to year: TechServe Alliance

IT employment in the US ticked down slightly in March from February for the third consecutive month, the TechServe Alliance announced. The number of IT jobs in the US edged down to about 5.34 million jobs, according to the group, which serves as the national trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry.

On a year-over-year basis, IT employment was up by only 0.16% in March with 8,600 more IT workers than the previous year.

“After downward revisions for January, IT employment has declined the first three months of 2019 — an inauspicious start to the year,” said TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts. “On a year-over-year basis, IT employment is barely in positive territory.”

Roberts continued, “a supply side phenomenon, the ongoing shortage of IT talent has become a huge obstacle for many businesses in the US. ... We see no relief in sight with the promise of an ever more restrictive approach to immigration.”

A separate report by Staffing Industry Analysts, the "IT Staffing Growth Assessment: 2019 Update," expects the skills gap to go on for the foreseeable future.

“We don’t anticipate the skills mismatch to abate in the near term,” said Brian Wallins, senior research analyst at SIA and author of the report. “Shorter tech cycles are exacerbating the IT skills gap.”

It will likely take a material economic slowdown to bring supply and demand more into balance, Wallins said.

Talent is now so tight big tech firms such as Alphabet and Apple have dropped the four-year degree requirement for IT positions, and companies are hiring individuals with little or no IT backgrounds, according to the report.

Staffing buyers are beginning to extend or even waive term limits for contingent IT workers in order to keep as many skilled workers as possible. The mismatch continues even as the US graduates more computer science majors, more people go through coding boot camps, companies hire H-1B visa holders under the caps and the use of automation accelerates.

The TechServe Alliance also measures engineering employment, which edged up by 0.14% in March from February. Engineering employment rose 2.47% on a year-over-year basis, an increase of 63,900 engineering workers.

Engineering employment increased by 0.14% sequentially to 2,648,100. On a year-over-year basis, growth in engineering employment increased by 2.47% since March 2018, or 63,900 engineering workers.

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