Three studies released this week indicate that the job market may be stabilizing. Although job losses continue to mount, the pace is slowing, according to one study. According to another, job opportunities are on the rise. Meanwhile, CIOs’ IT staffing plans haven’t changed much since the third quarter, according to a survey conducted by Robert Half International.
[ See how the job market has changed over the past several months: Market for Tech Jobs Remains Volatile, IT Job Market Update: Hiring Stalled, Salaries Slashed, and Online Job Postings Dip 23 Percent. ]
First, the number of jobs cut in August dropped 21 percent from July, to 76,456, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. This is the second lowest number of job cuts recorded so far this year: In June, Challenger, Gray & Christmas tracked 74,393 job cuts—the lowest level to date.
Though organizations have cut more than a million jobs so far this year, according to Challenger’s data, the number of layoffs has been declining more or less steadily since the beginning of 2009. (Of course, the number of job cuts was so high earlier in the year that the only direction they could possibly go is down.) Indeed, August was the sixth time in the last seven months that job cuts declined from the previous month. Only in July did the number of job cuts increase, to 97,373, from the month before. August was also the third consecutive month that job cuts were lower than the previous year.
The second study, from The Conference Board, shows that the number of online job postings is on the rise. Since April 2009, hiring demand has increased by 300,000 online job ads. In August, the number of online job ads grew by 169,000, to 3.5 million. The Conference Board measures job posting activity across 1,200 major online job boards and smaller job boards that target specific markets and smaller geographic areas.
IT professionals stand to benefit from the increase in hiring demand, according to The Conference Board’s data. Of the top 10 occupational categories in highest demand, computer and mathematical sciences jobs ranked third, behind management jobs and health-care practitioners. Advertisements for jobs in the computer and mathematical sciences field grew by 8,800 to 406,800. According to The Conference Board’s data, there were slightly more job ads than unemployed people seeking positions in the computer and mathematical sciences field. In sales, by contrast, The Conference Board noted that there are nearly four people seeking work for every sales job advertised online.
Given macroeconomic trends, CIOs remain cautious about their IT staffing levels. In fact, their staffing plans for the fourth quarter of 2009 have not changed much from their third-quarter plans: Only 6 percent of CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology plan to add IT staff in the fourth quarter. The same amount expect to cut staff. Most CIOs, 86 percent, plan to hold the line on staffing levels inside their IT departments.