by Meridith Levinson

IT Professionals’ Confidence in the Economy, Jobs Plummets in Fourth Quarter of 2008

Jan 15, 20093 mins

IT professionals’ confidence in the economy, their job security and their ability to find a new job took a beating in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to IT services provider Technisource’s latest IT Employee Confidence Index.

The IT Employee Confidence Index, which seeks to measure employed IT professionals’ outlook on the economy and job market, dropped seven points from the third quarter, to 40.4. The drop marks a continued erosion of IT professionals’ faith in the market. The latest IT Employee Confidence Index, which is based on a survey Harris Interactive conducted of 567 employed IT professionals in October, November and December 2008, is measured on a scale of zero to 100 where zero represents no confidence and 100 signifies complete confidence.

According to the survey results, the number of IT workers who think the economy is weakening jumped 12 percentage points, to 76 percent. The survey also found that IT professionals are growing increasingly pessimistic about the IT employment situation.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of IT workers surveyed say they’re not confident in their ability to find a new job, up from the 19 percent who said the same in the third quarter. At the same time, the number of IT workers who are optimistic about their ability to find new jobs dipped from 48 percent in the third quarter to 41 percent in the fourth quarter. So now, only four out of 10 IT workers are optimistic about finding a new job.

The number of IT professionals who are confident in their ability to land a new job may be declining because so many of them say fewer jobs are available: 76 percent say there are fewer jobs on the market, a 17 percent spike from 59 percent in the third quarter.

IT workers’ confidence in the economy and the job market are tracking alongside the rest of the employed professionals Harris Interactive surveyed. There weren’t any big discrepancies between what IT professionals are experiencing compared with professionals employed in other industries and disciplines.  

The findings from the IT Employee Confidence Index aren’t surprising given the events that punctuated the last three months of 2008: The collapse of the U.S. financial system; the news of huge layoffs at Citigroup, Sun Microsystems and Motorola (to name just a few); and the news stories about hiring freezes and IT budget cuts.  

There was a silver lining to the findings: On the whole, the IT professionals surveyed are confident in their employer’ futures. They also feel pretty secure in their jobs. Only one in five (19 percent) thinks they’re at risk of losing their jobs, which wasn’t a major change from the third quarter, when 17 percent said the same. And more than two-thirds (68 percent) say it’s unlikely that they’ll lose their jobs.

Those IT workers who do wish to find something new may be in a strong position to negotiate a good offer, says Bennet Ockrim, Technisource’s regional vice president based in Chicago. The companies that are hiring are doing so because the positions they have open are critical to fill, says Ockrim.

Therefore, an IT professional with just the right skills and experience for a given position has more leverage, he says.