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JobStats - May 2002: 11 May 2002

11 May 2002
Welcome to the second edition of the JobStats newsletter (and the first to be delivered by email to subscribers).

Market trends

Last month I said that I thought we had reached the bottom of the market and that we could expect things not to get worse. This month has tested that statement.

On the downside, the number of job adverts continued to fall slightly (down four percent since March).

On the upside, rates are beginning to show real signs of rising again. Annual rates have stopped falling and at the top end of the market they are rising. Hourly rates are also moving up but the behaviour is different, the bottom end of the market is showing the most consistent gains. Looking back to the end of 1999, the general rise in rates over the following year started with a rise at the bottom end of the market and the subsequent fall was also preceded by a fall at the bottom end.

The demand for contractors has stopped declining and has levelled off. The demand for permanent employees is still declining though but at a slower rate than last year.

Other indicators

The IT sector is driven by the general economy because a lot of IT jobs are for companies for whom IT is a service rather than the core business. This means that the state of the economy as a whole will affect the demand for IT staff. The past two years have been driven by the dot-com bubble; this has exacerbated the effect on IT staff. It was especially good on the way up and especially bad on the way down. With luck though it should have worked its way out of the system and we are back to business as usual. For the state of the UK economy as a whole you're best consulting your favourite economist instead of me but ... inflation is low, unemployment is low, interest rates are low and the economy is still growing.

There's a small ray of sunshine from silicon.com who report (http://www.silicon.com/a52985) that IT directors are planning to increase their budgets by around four percent in 2002. But remember that IT directors don't call the shots, their budgets can always be revised by the rest of the board.

The cloud to this silver lining though is the news of job cuts in the IT sector. With IBM and Logica cutting headcount it's clear that the computing industry is not out of the woods just yet.

Specific skills

Programming languages come and go. The three most popular just now are C++, Java and Visual Basic (in that order). C++ has declined slightly in popularity over the past two years but nothing too significant. The roller-coaster has been Java which shot up at the start of 2000 and then fell consistently until the start of 2002 since when it has become a little more popular. Visual Basic has been steadily but unspectacularly declining in popularity throughout 2001/2002.

C# is starting to appear in adverts since making its first significant appearance in May 2001 and has been growing slowly ever since. It is still a minority interest, mentioned by less than one percent of adverts, but worth keeping your eye on.


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