InfoTech Want Ads Surge Above Pre-Bust Peaks

The water is building up behind the dam.  More and more, it’s looking like 2011 could be a banner year for IT hiring…isn’t that amazing?

The key piece of evidence:  Online help-wanted ads for computer and mathematical occupations are up 56% over a year ago, and well over their pre-bust peak.  That’s according to data from The Conference Board. *

This category of help-wanted ads includes companies looking for the full range of IT occupations: computer software engineers, computer support specialists, network administrators, web developers, computer programmers and the like.**

On one level, this rise in labor demand is not surprising, since  the communications boom–including mobile, video, social networking, online shopping, and  all sorts of other applications–is driving a commensurate boom in IT spending.   With business spending on computers, software, and communications equipment is now almost 10% above pre-bust levels,  it’s no wonder that companies have an absolute crying need for more skilled IT workers.

So far, however, businesses have been holding off from actual hiring. Data from the BLS suggests that the number of people actually employed in IT occupations has not risen as fast as the want ads.  Employment in computer and mathematical occupations now stands at 3.4 million, well below its recent peak.

My intepretation, though, is that the hiring pressure is gotten strong enough to break the dam, especially with Obama having just signed the new tax bill. Companies have just been waiting to make sure that  the global economy doesn’t fall back into a deep funk again, and a hefty dose of fiscal stimulus is just the thing.

I’m predicting a big jump in IT hiring as soon as the new year starts…and it’s about time.

*The labor demand data is from The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) data series,

EDIT: Changed title of post.



  1. At least in certain parts of IT, the contractor/(perma)temp has become an increasing phenomenon. OTOH, companies usually don’t contract direct, but through agencies. So most such contractors will still be somebody’s employee. Depending on who posts the ad(s), there may be some duplicated “frictional” job ads for the same position.

    Another apparent source of ads is companies and recruiters going on “fishing expeditions” attempting to build candidate pools from all the talent out there, or trying to snap up talent at bargain prices. Often there are no (current) “real jobs” behind such ads. I had first hand reports of people being strung along for considerable time with lowball offers or a position for a project that was “just around the corner” and sure to be approved next quarter. In such situations the recruiting effort never goes beyond the “talking” phase.

    • Mike Mandel says:

      The methodology used should eliminate most of the duplicates. And I agree the job “right around the corner” has been the pattern up to now. I think that we are about to pass the tipping point where the jobs become real.

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