Greatest Job Growth Expected in East South Central and Mid-Atlantic Regions

Aug 27, 2003

MENLO PARK, CA -- Chief information officers (CIOs) expect a slight slowdown in the hiring of information technology (IT) professionals compared with the third quarter of 2003, according to Robert Half Technology's Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report. Nine percent of executives surveyed plan to expand their IT departments in the fourth quarter and 4 percent anticipate staff reductions. The net 5 percent hiring increase compares with a net 7 percent increase forecast last quarter.

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 information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Key Findings

  • Business expansion is the leading factor driving IT hiring.
  • Microsoft Windows administration remains the skill set most in demand.
  • CIOs in the East South Central states and the business services sector are most optimistic about upcoming hiring activity.
  • Eighty-five percent of CIOs expect no change in hiring activity.

"Employment projections from our IT Hiring Index have remained little changed from quarter to quarter this year," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Businesses continue to look for signs of sustained economic growth before making full-time hiring decisions."

Lee noted that while cost-cutting efforts remain a priority for CIOs, an increasing number of firms are beginning to invest in IT initiatives designed to build or enhance revenue, including projects such as the storage and mining of customer data.

Forty-seven percent of CIOs who said they are planning to hire in the fourth quarter cited corporate growth as the primary factor. The desire to improve customer and end-user support was the next most popular reason given, with 19 percent of the response.

Executives from the largest companies, those with 1,000 or more employees, were most optimistic about their hiring plans. Thirteen percent of CIOs at these firms said they expect to add personnel and 6 percent forecast staff reductions.

Skills in Demand

When asked which technical skill sets were in shortest supply within their IT departments, 79 percent of CIOs reported a need for experienced Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administrators. SQL Server administration was also a sought-after specialty, receiving 40 percent of the response. Cisco network administration was selected as a high-demand specialty by 29 percent of executives. (Note: Survey respondents were allowed multiple responses.)

CIOs surveyed were also asked to identify specific positions that are in greatest demand within their IT departments. Help desk technician, programmer and network administrator were cited most frequently.

Regional Outlook

The East South Central1 region of the United States is expected to lead the nation in technology hiring activity during the fourth quarter. Fifteen percent of CIOs plan to expand their IT departments and 3 percent anticipate personnel cutbacks. The net 12 percent increase is seven percentage points above the national average. "Technology executives in the East South Central states are reporting increased demand for individuals skilled in .NET administration and development as firms there begin to adopt the new platform," Lee said.

CIOs in the Mid-Atlantic2 states also forecast notable employment gains. Thirteen percent of technology executives here plan to add staff while just 2 percent expect reductions in headcount, resulting in a net 11 percent hiring increase. "Firms in the Mid-Atlantic region, in particular, are seeking applications developers and database designers with experience in the finance, insurance and healthcare industries," Lee said.

Industries Hiring

For the third consecutive quarter, CIOs in business services are most optimistic about technology hiring in the coming quarter. Eighteen percent of executives expect to hire personnel before the end of the year and 7 percent anticipate staff reductions. The net 11 percent hiring increase is more than double the national average.

Employment activity is also expected to exceed the national average in the professional services, retail, and finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sectors. Technology executives with professional services firms expect a net 9 percent increase in hiring activity, while CIOs in the retail and FIRE industries project a net 7 percent increase in hiring activity in the fourth quarter.

IT Hiring Index Chart: National Figures, 2-Year Comparison

IT Hiring Index Chart: Regional Breakdown

IT Hiring Index Chart: Industry Breakdown

IT Hiring Index Chart: Company Size

IT Hiring Index Chart: Skills in Demand

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 engineering 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 New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania



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