Is the Worst of Recession Over for IT Pros?

IT pay increased slightly in the second quarter of 2009. Meanwhile, hiring managers across 15 U.S. metropolitan areas list the high-tech skills most in demand.

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Recent research that shows wages increased and some skill sets continue to be sought after suggests the worst of the economic recession may have passed for IT professionals currently employed or seeking work.

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According to the Yoh Index of Technology Wages released this week, pay for IT professionals increased by slightly more than 1% during the second quarter of 2009 compared with the same time period in 2008. The first two quarters of this year showed that technology wages remained steady, Yoh says, while the first two quarters of 2008 saw a decline in compensation. The small trend upward is causing industry watchers to be cautiously optimistic about an economic recovery for high-tech workers.

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"Wages in professional and technology sectors remained stable, but this does not indicate that the recession's impact on the workforce is complete," said Lori Schultz, president of Yoh, in a statement.

Separately, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently reported that the number of monthly job cuts in September fell to the lowest level since March 2008, and was down 13% from the 76,456 jobs eliminated in July 2009 and 30% lower than September 2008. The electronics, telecommunications and computer industries were among those with fewer job cuts announced, with 683, 617 and 494 lost positions in September, respectively. And each of the three high-tech industries also announced hiring plans. Computer companies reported a planned 3,150 hires, electronics vendors intend to add 1,145 positions, and telecommunications providers in September announced they anticipate bringing on 750 employees, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"The downward trend in planned job-cut announcements is certainly a sign that employers feel more optimistic about business conditions. Further evidence of this increased confidence was demonstrated earlier this week by a spate of merger activity," said Rick Cobb, executive vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement. “It could be a while before this increased confidence results in job creation,  but we are going in the right direction.”

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Yoh's data shows that despite a slow recovery cycle, hiring managers are still finding it difficult to fill positions requiring certain high-tech skills. The talent and workforce solutions provider polled more than 9,000 hiring managers in more than 15 metropolitan areas and learned that companies continue to seek high-tech workers with Java and .Net/C+ development skills. Other positions in demand include IT security engineer, network engineer, software engineer, quality assurance professionals and project managers. SAP consultants, both functional and technical, continue to be sought after and biostatisticians and clinical research associates are also in demand across the United States.

"We continue to see a demand for highly specialized, technical workers. Paired with the stability we've seen in associated wages, this leads us to be cautiously optimistic that economic restoration is in progress," Yoh's Schultz said.

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This story, "Is the Worst of Recession Over for IT Pros?" was originally published by Network World.

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