The almost-insatiable demand for information technology (IT) workers is hardly a secret. Tech companies, including EMSI, are constantly looking for talented web developers and programmers, and recruiters from a wide swath of industries also feel the pain when it comes to finding IT talent.
John Zappe wrote last month at ERE.net that the market for IT workers is expected to tighten nationwide this year. As Rona Borre, CEO of Instant Technology LLC, told Crain’s Chicago Business, it’s “the tightest I’ve seen it since the tech boom in the late 1990s.”
We’ve written plenty in the last year about IT jobs, the pipeline of graduates, and the surprisingly stagnant wages nationally for software engineers and programmers from 2004-2010. In this post, we’ll take a fresh look at IT supply and demand with the most current labor market data available from EMSI and other sources.
Wages: Still Not Rising
Of all IT fields, software developers and programmers in general are most in-demand. But wages in the U.S. for programmers aren’t trending upward like you would expect given the hard-to-find-talent landscape and apparently limited supply of these workers. In fact, median annual salaries* declined from 2009-2011:
Applications software developers saw a 2.7% drop in real wages, slightly more than computers programmers (-2.4%) and systems software developers (-1.4%). The BLS will release 2012 data in May, so these numbers are lagging — but they’re still surprising. If employers are having a hard time finding developers, salaries should be rising.
Perhaps firms are trying to pay below market-determined wages for developers, a trend Peter Cappelli discusses in his book on the so-called skills gap. Writes Cappelli, “When I hear stories about the difficulty in finding applicants, I always ask employers if they have tried raising wages, which in many cases have not gone up in years. The response is virtually always that they believe their wages are high enough. But—and it’s a big but—this doesn’t reflect a skill shortage. It simply means that employers are not paying the market wage.”
* The BLS discourages using OES data to compare wages over time, specifically for reasons outlined here.
Supply and Demand: A Relative Balance
California, Virginia, Texas, Washington — these are a few of the states that we identified as having a potential undersupply of new IT workers coming into the workforce. But the national picture isn’t as out of whack as you might expect. The latest data from EMSI and the National Center for Education Statistics actually indicates a slight oversupply — there were 152,950 graduates in IT-related programs in 2011 compared to 147,156 job openings (new jobs plus turnover) estimated for this year.
The most openings among IT occupations are projected for computer support specialists (28,031), followed by applications software developers (20,925):
|SOC Code||IT Occupation||2012 Jobs||2013 Projected Jobs||Projected Change||Projected % Change||Annual Openings||Median Hourly Earnings||Education Level|
|15-1159||Computer Support Specialists||662,550||672,759||10,209||2%||28,031||$23.58||Associate's degree|
|15-1132||Software Developers, Applications||580,466||595,033||14,567||3%||20,925||$42.92||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1121||Computer Systems Analysts||530,098||540,349||10,251||2%||20,741||$37.62||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1133||Software Developers, Systems Software||417,604||429,342||11,738||3%||16,318||$46.69||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1142||Network and Computer Systems Administrators||361,646||369,978||8,332||2%||14,769||$34.29||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1131||Computer Programmers||350,518||353,835||3,317||1%||11,999||$34.48||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1179||Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects||315,290||321,543||6,253||2%||11,296||$35.99||Bachelor's degree|
|11-3021||Computer and Information Systems Managers||321,201||326,383||5,182||2%||10,228||$56.67||Bachelor's or higher degree, plus work experience|
|15-1799||Computer Occupations, All Other||195,774||197,730||1,956||1%||5,937||$38.13||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1141||Database Administrators||118,529||122,051||3,522||3%||5,593||$36.44||Bachelor's degree|
|15-1111||Computer and Information Research Scientists||30,122||30,842||720||2%||1,320||$47.59||Doctoral degree|
|Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed - EMSI 2013.1 Class of Worker|
While demand for IT workers is on the rise, so too are the number of graduates in fields supplying these workers. They’ve jumped 19% since 2008:
Much of the data for this post comes from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market data and analysis tool. For more information, contact Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.