Spike in demand, both in Minnesota and nationally, shifts power to tech-savvy job candidates, who sometimes get multiple job offers.
New headhunter research this week offers hope that the job market is tightening -- at least for select job candidates in information technology.
While the nation's unemployment rate stands north of 9 percent, unemployment is less than 2.5 percent for computer programers, data administrators and other IT specialists, according to the latest hiring report by employment behemoth Robert Half International (RHI).
RHI uncovered the trend after surveying 1,400 chief information officers in September and October and studying new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Results showed "an interesting dual job market where unemployment is relatively high for the general population but ... very low for computer network architects, system analysts and database administrators, software and Web developers and for even back-end support," said Kathy Northamer, technology district president for Robert Half, in an interview Monday.
For example, the unemployment rate for computer network architects is just 0.2 percent. For database administrators it's 2.4 percent.
IT executives surveyed acknowledged that the sudden spike in demand for skilled IT workers has shifted power to job candidates. In fact, recruiters now say that sought-after candidates increasingly flaunt multiple job offers, higher wage demands and a general choosiness that didn't exist just two years ago.
"It's a tough challenge for the recruiters," Northamer said.
Nearly 60 percent of surveyed executives say they are facing IT recruiting challenges, up from just 17 percent in the previous quarter.
A separate survey by the Society of Human Resource Management last week also found that human resource professionals have a harder time landing technology candidates. IT workers are particularly in demand in the manufacturing field. Nearly 18 percent of manufacturing respondents said they have a harder time recruiting high-skilled workers than a year ago. In August 2010, only 2.2 percent of respondents had a tough time.
In Minnesota the trend is particularly bad, said state officials who conducted their own survey of manufacturers. In a report released Monday, The 2011 Minnesota Skills Gap Survey found that 45 percent of responding manufacturers reported that skilled-worker shortages are a "moderate'' or "serious" problem.
The state survey also found that the greatest demand is for skilled production and IT workers (58 percent of respondents) and scientists and engineers (40 percent). Shortages were not severe for low-skilled production jobs or for management, administration or customer service jobs, state officials said.
The heightened demand for IT and skilled factory workers comes on the eve of the Governor's Jobs Summit Tuesday. State officials and economic development experts are hosting the summit to shine a spotlight on unemployment. Minnesota's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in September.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725