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U.S. Jobs: July Employment Recap Good, Not Great

There were enough new jobs created in July to account for new workplace entrants. Breaking even is better than breaking bad, of course, and low-and-slow growth is better than low-to-no growth.

It's the dog days of summer ... and of IT employment?Whoa! The dog days of summer are surely here, but the employment situation fails to match the sizzling Texas heat that has presently settled in where I live. That said, it’s looking very much like we’re returning to the pattern of slow and steady growth that characterized the period from 2014 to 2016, employment-wise.

 

(The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cranked out its monthly summary of employment activity last week, but I had already complied with a special request to submit my weekly GoCertify post early, so I'm catching up now.)

 

With 164,000 jobs added for July, the latest report also includes a downward revision for June (down by 31,000 to 193,000 jobs added) and May (down by 10,000 from a still-astonishing 72,000 to an even lower 62,000 — yikes!). That puts the average for the past three months at 140,000 jobs per month, which is just barely enough to soak up the continuing stream of new entrants to the workforce.

 

It’s also less than three-quarters (73.5 percent, to be exact) of the monthly average for 2018 (233,000 then vs. 164,000 now). That said, with President Trump carrying on his trade war with China, and other economic upsets (markets were down 2-to-3 percent on Monday, Aug. 5) the job market continues to show surprising capacity and resilience.

 

Digging Deeper for Details

 

Here are some specifics for the various employment sectors that the U.S. BLS tracks. Employment sectors that posted gains in July included the following:

 

● Professional and technical services: +31,000 jobs
● Healthcare: +30,000 jobs
● Social assistance: +20,000 jobs
● Financial services: +18,000 jobs

 

The only losing sector for July was mining (-5,000 jobs), but that’s been a source of more losses than gains for many years now. Other sectors — namely, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government — remain more or less flat. And, except for seasonal swelling among sectors like wholesale and retail trade, or hospitality, they have been that way more or less for the past decade and perhaps longer.

 

CompTIA’s Take on IT Employment

 

Because its sole focus is on information technology, CompTIA’s monthly employment tracker and its accompanying press release often offer greater insight into what’s happening, employment-wise, in what is most likely to be the home sector for most GoCertify readers.

 

 

CompTIA assesses July IT employment activity.

CompTIA reports (see “IT sector employment breakout” graphic at right; click here for more information and context) that gains in most IT hiring areas, totaling 16,500 jobs overall, were offset by a pretty substantial dip of -5,100 jobs in the telecom sector. The biggest gainer was IT & software services with 10,600 jobs added. Other growing categories included computer, electronics, and chip manufacturing (+2,600 jobs); data processing, hosting, and related services (+1,300 jobs); and other info services including search portals (+2,000).

 

 

CompTIA also estimates that overall IT employment grew by 135,000 jobs for July, so that puts the bulk of the growth into what they call “IT occupation employment.” This means that companies outside the IT sector are filling the bulk of open IT positions right now (118,500 jobs for companies and organizations outside IT, versus the aformentioned 16,500 jobs for those inside the IT business).

 

I don’t know what you think, but I’m inclined to take this as a sign of growing investment in, and reliance upon, IT technology across the entire marketplace. There may be a glimmer of hope shining inside this ratio, and those numbers. CompTIA also estimates the unemployment level for IT workers of all kinds at an astounding 1.3 percent!

 

That figure is slightly more than one-third of the national value of 3.7 percent. In fact, 1.3 percent is such a low number that measurement error probably mean it could be anywhere from zero (0!) to two (2) percent. To me, this means that IT wages MUST start growing, and soon.

 

At the very least, that kind of number says that the buyer’s market for skilled IT professionals is OVER. Such numbers clearly indicate that it’s a seller’s market right now, at least in my humble opinion.

 

From the IT perspective, I see positive signs in these numbers. Let’s hope what I see is actually there, and that a rising tide will soon come along to float all IT salaries higher. We’ll see. In these times, one never knows what might happen next. Stay tuned!

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ed-tittel120Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Business News Daily, and on Windows desktop OS topics for TechTarget and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com.