US IT employment growing, study finds

Hiring is on the increase

The US technology industry added more than 140,000 jobs between January and July, nearly double the 78,900 tech jobs added in the first half of 2005, according to a study released Tuesday by the American Electronics Association (AeA).

“We’re seeing the largest six-month gain in tech industry jobs that we’ve seen in any six-month period since 2001,” says Josh James, one of the authors of the report.

At the individual sector level, technology manufacturers saw a net increase in jobs of 33,100 in the US in the first half of the year, for a total of 1.37 million jobs. That represents a 2.5% increase, the second consecutive year that high-tech manufacturing has seen net job growth, according to the study.

The high-tech services sectors — including communications, software, and engineering and tech services — saw a net increase of 107,000 jobs over the same time period, for a total of 4.44 million jobs. That also represented a 2.5% rise. In that sector, engineering and tech services added the most net jobs, 49,800, followed by software services, which added 44,500 net jobs. Even the communications services sector saw its first net job growth since 2000, adding 12,700 jobs, or 0.9%, from January through June.

“The less good news is [that] despite this, tech industry job growth is still lagging that of the [overall] private sector,” James says. “What we see from this is that tech companies are hiring for technical positions inside the US, but they’re having a hard time filling those positions. This growth could accelerate if companies were better able to get qualified workers for these positions.”

One reason high-tech companies can’t find qualified workers is that fewer students are interested in entering science and engineering careers, James says. Another is the restrictions US companies face when they try to bring in foreign nationals to fill in those positions, he says.

“Companies can’t obtain visas to bring them here, and many highly skilled and educated foreign nationals are finding opportunities at home,” according to the study. “The AeA believes job growth in the US technology industry can continue to grow, but this growth will only be strong and sustainable if companies can hire the best and brightest talent from the United States and from around the world.”

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