East South Central and Mountain States Expect Strongest Employment Gains

Sep 20, 2006

MENLO PARK, CA -- Thirteen percent of chief information officers (CIOs) polled for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report plan to add information technology (IT) staff in the fourth quarter of 2006, and 3 percent anticipate cutbacks.  The net 10 percent hiring increase is unchanged from the third-quarter forecast. 

The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.  The company has been tracking IT hiring activity in the United States since 1995.  

Key Findings

  • Business growth remains the leading factor driving the need for more IT personnel.
  • Help desk/end-user support professionals are in the greatest demand nationwide.
  • CIOs in the East South Central1 and Mountain2 states are most optimistic about hiring activity.
  • The construction industry forecasts the strongest IT employment gains.

“Ongoing competition for IT professionals, particularly those with hard-to-find skill sets and specialized expertise, is prompting many companies to devote greater resources to recruitment and retention efforts,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. 

Among the CIOs who expect to hire, business growth was cited by 40 percent as the primary reason for adding IT staff.  Twenty-three percent of respondents noted a need for increased customer service and/or end-user support professionals.  Installation or development of new enterprisewide applications followed with 19 percent of the response, a gain of six percentage points from the previous quarter’s forecast.  (Full survey results, including additional charts, are available at

Skills in Demand

The technical skill set most in demand within IT departments is Microsoft Windows (Server 2000/2003) administration, according to 80 percent of CIOs surveyed.  Network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell) was a close second, with 79 percent of the response, followed by database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), at 71 percent.  (Note: Survey respondents were permitted to cite multiple skill sets.)

When asked which overall job category was experiencing the most growth within their IT departments, the top reply was help desk/end-user support (19 percent).  Networking followed at 18 percent, and applications development was third, with 12 percent of the response.

Regional Outlook

CIOs in the East South Central states anticipate the most active hiring for the remainder of 2006.  Twenty-three percent of executives in this region plan to expand their IT departments and just 1 percent forecast staff cutbacks.  The net 22 percent increase is 12 points above the national average.

“Many companies have been moving into the East South Central region to take advantage of the lower cost of doing business and are actively recruiting employees,” Lee said.  “Firms that have recently invested in hardware and software upgrades now require long-term support for their systems, which is creating demand for help desk professionals, network engineers and network security staff.”

Executives surveyed from the Mountain states are among the most optimistic in the country, outpacing the national average in projected technology hiring for the fourth consecutive quarter.  Twenty-one percent of CIOs in the region expect to add IT staff in the fourth quarter and none forecast personnel reductions. 

Industries Hiring

Technology executives in the construction industry were unanimous in their desire to hire IT staff in the fourth quarter, survey results show.  Thirty-four percent of CIOs surveyed plan to add IT staff and none anticipate cutbacks in personnel.

CIOs in the professional services and business services sectors also forecast employment gains above the national average.  Executives in each industry anticipate a net 14 percent hiring increase in the fourth quarter.

National IT Hiring Projections

IT Hiring Index: Two-Year History

Factors Driving IT Hiring

IT Hiring Projections by Region

IT Hiring Projections by Industry

Five-Year History

IT Hiring Projections by Metro Market

With more than 100 locations in North America and Europe, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support.  For more information about Robert Half Technology or to learn about online job search opportunities, please visit

1 Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
2 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

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