by D. Slater

Staffing Is Easier in Poor Economy

Jun 15, 20012 mins
IT Leadership

The economic slowdown is actually a blessing for a lucky few. And we’re not just talking about repo men, dotcom yard sale shoppers and loan sharks. Greg DeFronzo, MIS director at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, says that as much as he’d like to see the economy turn around, staffing is much easier at his agency when the Nasdaq is shaky.

The numbers bear him out. In more prosperous times, the yearly turnover rate among DeFronzo’s IS group rose as high as 35 percent. Early this year, that churn fell to 4 percent.

“The government sector is always the opposite of the normal curve, since we don’t pay market rate salaries,” DeFronzo explains. In boom cycles, like the one at the end of the past century, staffers run off to the private sector to rake in the big bucks. But when the stock markets crater and layoffs begin, DeFronzo’s phone starts ringing with people calling in search of the stability offered by public sector jobs. “I had a bunch of people last summer who left to join dotcoms. Now some of those people have called to see if they could get their jobs back,” he says.

No dice; the positions were already filled.

Growing private sector companies can likewise benefit in their hiring efforts. “Overall there’s still a shortage of technical people in this job market, but it seems like this year it’s getting a bit easier” to fill positions opened by corporate growth, says QVC CIO John Link. Link cites not only dotcom fallout but also layoffs among IT consulting companies as the reason more qualified IT workers are floating around.