Mass. Software/IT market job growth robust: Mass High Tech article

Adding to the growing consensus view that we’ve seen for months now, is the following Mass High Tech Article http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/12/07/daily7-Study-Software-leads-tech-growth-in-Mass.html squarely pointing towards a robust 2010 and beyond. Software engineering already employs more people in Mass  than during the .com boom times of 1999-2001. With software engineers/computer science jobs rated #1 or #2 (depending on nomenclature, study data) for job growth over the next decade – the momentum is aligned behind a very nice recovery in 2010. The complete study can be downloaded here – http://bit.ly/7ZkioS (PDF download link).

Some highlights:

Current unemployment and projected growth

The primary occupations associated with the IT industry have been resilient through 2008. Current Population Survey data indicates how well workers in IT occupations are coping with the current recession. Between 2002 and 2008, the computer and mathematical occupations have enjoyed much lower unemployment rates than the average unemployment rate,16 consistent with other management and professional occupations. As Figure 22 shows, in addition to being consistently lower than the overall unemployment rate for all occupations, the unemployment rate of the computer and mathematical occupational group also dropped more rapidly than the average between 2003 and 2007. This indicates that computer and mathematical occupations recovered robustly in the years following the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

Current point-in-time data

Recent data illustrate that IT workers have resilience, but are not completely immune to recession. The most recent available monthly data shows that although unemployment is rising, as of June 2009, the unemployment rate for mathematics and computer occupations remains much lower than the average for all U.S. occupations. In June 2008, the monthly unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations was about a third of the average. In June 2009, the monthly unemployment rate for computer and mathematical occupations was just over half the average rate. In Massachusetts, workers in IT occupations have been making fewer unemployment claims than their share of the workforce. Claimant data collected by the Massachusetts Office of Labor Workforce and Development indicate that IT workers in computer and mathematical occupations are filing for unemployment benefits at a lower rate than would be proportionate to their

Projected growth

Recent growth projections developed by the state suggest that demand for the most skilled IT professionals will remain very strong.17 Network systems and data communications analysts, as well as the two software engineering occupations, are forecast to experience the greatest gains in jobs by 2016. Alternatively, Computer Support Specialists and Computer Programmers are expected to grow at the slowest pace in the state (in the case of the latter, positions are actually expected to contract). Along with information collected during focus group sessions, the projections suggest that these particular IT occupations are being outsourced to workers abroad. With that said, these are the only two primary IT occupations that are projected to grow at a rate slower than the statewide average for all occupations. The table below features projected growth rates by occupation, and reveals that in many cases, jobs are expected to grow at more than three times the Commonwealth’s overall projected job growth rate. High wage jobs are projected to grow and educated workers (with at minimum a Bachelor’s degree expected) will be required for the vast majority of these jobs.

The Software sector includes firms that offer products and services in two subsectors:

• Systems and Applications:

Firms in this subsector develop and publish commercial systems software (including operating systems and platforms) on which computer applications run. These firms also develop and publish applications that enable users to complete particular tasks, such as text editing, email communication, and graphics and photo editing, as well as various tasks related to specialized business functions.

• Custom Computer Programming:

Firms and workers in this subsector are engaged in writing, modifying, testing, and supporting software to meet the specialized needs of customers—both corporate or commercial and consumer or residential. Custom programmers may be employed by small-, mid-, or large-size firms, or they may be self-employed or “freelance” workers.7

Employment and firm growth patterns in the Software sector

From 1998 to 2008, employment in the Software sector has grown by 34.6 percent, reaching 47,331 workers. Despite a substantial decline from dot-com bubble levels, Software has regained and surpassed 2000 employment and has shown consistent growth since 2004. The sector most recently accounted for 26.5 percent of all IT industry employment, nearly equal to the IT Services sector. Software firm counts have seen significant gains as well, with 2008 levels increasing by 53 percent above 1998 levels. Similar to the other core IT sectors, the number of software firms grew during those years when employment declined after the dot-com bust. The number of firms in the Software sector jumped substantially between 2000 and 2002 (by 16.6 percent) and again between 2002 and 2004 (by 10.3 percent). Many of these gains were lost by 2006, but the sector rebounded in 2008, ending the ten-year period with 53.0 percent more firms than in 1998. This may be a promising sign of future growth and the overall health of the sector in Massachusetts.

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