Employment levels in IT-related fields remained relatively flat in January as the overall workforce rose. The Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm employers added 145,000 jobs last month, but IT didn't contribute to that growth.
Even employment among IT services firms, which has shown steady growth this past year, hardly budged in January, shedding a miniscule and statistically irrelevant 300 jobs. IT services--officially tagged as computer-systems design and related services--employed 1,178,400 Americans in January. Still, that's a gain of 55,000 jobs from a year earlier, a 4.9% increase. As a comparison, overall nonfarm job growth was 1.7% in the past year.
Other IT sectors didn't fare as well. Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers discarded 1,200 jobs in January, employing 208,100. That's 6,700 fewer jobs than in January 2004, a 3.1% decline.
Among Internet service providers, search portals, and data-processing companies, which include software makers, employment fell by 1,100 in January to 388,700. Still, that's a gain of 2.75% over the past 12 months.
Overall, nonfarm employment in the United States stood at nearly 132.6 million in January. Some economists had predicted that nonfarm employment last month would be about 55,000 higher than it was. "There's still a level of frustration," economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics, told The Associated Press. "The economy is producing a moderate amount of job growth but not a satisfying amount of job growth. That means there is a limited number of new opportunities for workers."
Nonetheless, the nation's unemployment rate--based on a different Labor Department survey--fell to 5.2% in January from 5.4% in December. The January jobless rate was the lowest since September 2001. The unemployment rate reflects the number of people holding jobs or looking for work. Not counted are people no longer in the workforce. The size of the labor force fell by about 224,000 people in January.
To determine the unemployment rate, the government surveys 60,000 households each month. The survey that reflects the size of individual industries and the overall workforce size is based on a monthly survey of 160,000 businesses and government agencies. Results for January from both surveys are preliminary. Monthly data is seasonally adjusted.