Tuesday, May 10, 2011

IT Jobs Recovery Continues, Picks Up Steam

There have been a spate of news stories in the IT press covering the state of IT hiring. Once a quarter or so, I look at the job posts in Dice.com across many different keywords - a useful proxy for the IT hiring market at least for the U. S.

Three months ago, IT hiring was definitely picking up across the board. Fast-growing skills included iPad, HTML5, Amazon, Android, Twitter, and Facebook; categories with the greatest number of jobs posted included SQL, Oracle, Java, Windows, Unix, and Linux. Versus last summer, there was about an increase of about 30% in the number of jobs posted. How have things changed in the past three months?

Generally, the jobs picture is very similar to three months ago, with an overall increase in the number of jobs posted of around 6.1% (46.2% vs last April). If these jobs are being filled, this shows a sustained and strong increase in demand for IT skills. Within the overall IT category, this analysis does not cover some areas separately (e.g., desktop support, systems administration, network administration or really many network skills, and database administration), although many of these categories get covered through the occurrence of the relevant keywords. Perhaps I'll add these topics for future analyses.


This analysis looks at four general areas skills for which IT hires: Database, Applications, Languages, and Platforms.


The skills keywords I look at in the Database category include SQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PL/SQL, MySQL, DB2, Sybase, Hadoop, Informix, NoSQL, and many variants on these terms.

Across the board, there is significant increased demand for all these database skills versus three months ago (+5.1%), and versus a year ago (+34.5). Hadoop and NoSQL were not being tracked in the analyses from a year ago, but the fastest growth in other categories since last year and three months ago has been for MySQL (+52% vs last year, +9% vs 3 months ago). Hadoop and NoSQL demand has grown by 12% and 69% vs 3 months ago.

The weakest demand in this category has been for Informix (-12% vs 3 months ago, +10% since last year) and Sybase (+0.9% vs 3 months ago, -5% since last year).

Although there is rapid growth in demand for skills like Hadoop and NoSQL, the largest demand by far is for more standard skills like SQL, Oracle, and SQL Server.

Skill Jobs Growth over 3 months Growth over 12 months
SQL 23453 5.6% 33.8%
Oracle 16684 4.7% 33.1%
SQL Server 9692 4.6% 34.7%
PL/SQL 3587 4.5% 35.1%
MySQL 3123 9.3% 51.5%
DB2 2564 4.8% 28.5%
Sybase 1314 0.9% -4.7%
Hadoop 363 12.0% New comparison
Other NoSQL 245 69.0% New comparison
Informix 168 -12.0% 9.8%


The skills I look for in the Applications category include SAP, BASIS, ABAP, Dynamics, Peoplesoft, Siebel, eBusiness Suite, Salesforce.com, and related terms.

Three months ago, this was the category with the strongest recovery versus a year ago. Demand is still strong for applications skills, with the category growing by 4.5% over the past three months, and up 47.4% versus a year ago. The fastest growth in this category is clearly for SAP-related skills. Job posts mentioning SAP are up 8.3% vs three months ago and up 59% over the past year; ABAP and BASIS also had very strong growth, with job posts up around 70% for each skill over the past year. Salesforce.com job posts went up compared with last year (+37%), but were down over the past three months (-3.8%). Oracle's application suites (not including Fusion, for which I have no data) show much more modest growth or shrinkage, with Peoplesoft the lone bright spot (+54% over the past year). Microsoft Dynamics has also shown growth over the past year (+31%), but has declined vs three months ago (-2.9%).

The weakest demand in this category is for Oracle eBusiness Suite, for which demand has declined by 36% over the past three months.

The skills to know in this category, if you want to be employable, are SAP and Microsoft Dynamics, but the latter covers many different applications - SAP is where the job security lies. Of course, job security and overall compensation are not always aligned, but given the rapid growth in the SAP category we can expect very strong salaries there.

Skill Jobs Growth over 3 months Growth over 12 months
SAP 7475 8.3% 58.6%
Dynamics 6653 -2.9% 31.3%
BASIS 3858 18.3% 67.3%
Peoplesoft 2475 6.7% 54.4%
Siebel 1305 -5.0% 13.2%
ABAP 815 1.5% 70.1%
Salesforce.com 714 -3.8% 37.0%
eBusiness 48 -36.0% New comparison


The skills included in this category include Java, JavaScript, HTML, XML, C#, C++, Perl, AJAX, PHP, Python, Ruby, COBOL, Flash, Silverlight, HTML5, Assembler, PowerBuilder, and Fortran.

Demand for programming language skills surged, growing 58.5% vs a year ago and 7.4% over the past three months.

In particular, HTML5 demand really took off, growing 45.2% over the past three months and well over 1000% over the past year (from a very small base). There was such strong demand growth for all skills, that it is more useful in this category to speak about the area of weakest growth - Adobe Flash. Demand for Adobe Flash skills has grown by only 7% vs a year ago. Comparable skills - HTML5 and Microsoft Silverlight - have grown much faster.

Given the large number of jobs requiring Java skills, the growth in demand for Java by more than 33% over the past year is encouraging, and should indicate a recovery in compensation as well.

Skill Jobs Growth over 3 months Growth over 12 months
Java 16152 5.5% 33.4%
HTML 9736 7.3% 57.1%
XML 9651 9.0% 27.0%
JavaScript 9618 5.4% New comparison
C# 7940 9.7% 37.5%
C++ 5987 4.0% 21.3%
Perl 4948 4.0% 25.5%
AJAX 4440 7.1% 36.9%
PHP 3022 10.6% 44.9%
Python 2601 15.8% 59.7%
Ruby 1540 15.8% 95.9%
Silverlight 982 12.6% New comparison
COBOL 735 6.1% 36.9%
Flash 646 2.2% 7.0%
HTML5 540 45.2% 1488.2%
Assembler 212 12.2% 11.0%
PowerBuilder 155 26.0% 39.6%
FORTRAN 68 1.5% 30.8%


Platform skills analyzed in this category include Windows, Unix, Linux, IBM, VMware, Open Source (new), Embedded, Mainframe, Android, Blackberry, Palm, iPhone, iOS, iPad, Azure, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Mac, and Widget. I had an error in the way I was querying Mac jobs, so that has influenced some of the results.

Platform skills are also in great demand, with job posts up 5.8% vs three months ago and up 43.5% over last year. Again, there was very strong growth in demand across nearly all platform skills, with the fastest growth in iPad (-3.7% vs three months ago but up more than 3000% over the past year), Amazon (+12.8% over the past three months and +332% over the past year), and Android (+19.8% vs three months ago, and +270% vs last year).

Over the past year, demand has declined for only one skill (Widgets, -14%), but demand has softened over the past three months for Embedded Systems (-4.6%), iPad (surprisingly -3.5%), Palm (-6.9%), Widgets (-14.9%), and eBay (-3.3%).

Although all platforms are doing well, the top three (Windows, Unix, and Linux) are all showing strong demand and growth; it appears that Linux demand may surpass Unix demand very soon.

Skill Jobs Growth over 3 months Growth over 12 months
Windows 12641 2.3% 28%
Unix 10692 3.9% 21%
Linux 10185 2.1% 32%
IBM 5850 7.4% 77%
VMWare 2609 2.8% 47%
Open Source 1955 New comparison New comparison
Mainframe 1776 5.8% 32%
Embedded 1652 -4.6% 13%
Android 1170 19.8% 270%
Google 1132 27.0% 35%
Blackberry 1027 7.7% 77%
Amazon 1019 12.8% 332%
iPhone 1013 7.1% 162%
Mac 856 New comparison New comparison
iOS 832 24.9% New comparison
Twitter 683 7.4% 141%
Facebook 582 17.6% 135%
iPad 413 -3.5% 3077%
Yahoo 192 14.3% 16%
Palm 162 -6.9% 22%
Widget 149 -14.9% -14%
Azure 103 80.7% 94%
eBay 88 -3.3% 42%

Surprising Findings

  • Big declines in demand for Oracle eBusiness Suite and Oracle Siebel skills.
  • Huge increases in demand for Microsoft Azure, SAP Sybase PowerBuilder, and SAP BASIS skills.
  • Demand for Microsoft Silverlight developers surpasses demand for Adobe Flash developers!
If you have any skills you'd like to see tracked in these posts, please post a comment and I'll see about including them next time. Thanks!

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