The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

2 Worlds: Infosec, Rest of Workforce

U.S. Sees Shrinking Labor Force, But Not in IT
2 Worlds: Infosec, Rest of Workforce

When economists dissected July's 0.1 point drop in overall unemployment, to 9.1 percent, they attributed the decline mostly to fewer people seeking work. Simply, the American labor force comprised of the employed and unemployed declined by 193,000 from June to July while employment rose by 182,000.

But that's not the case for IT security professionals, and especially for information security analysts and related occupations. There are few discouraged workers in the information technology occupation categories these days.

A caveat: The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide monthly employment statistics for most occupation categories, including many involved in IT, such as IT security analysts. However, BLS provides quarterly employment numbers for all occupation categories, so this analysis is based on the month-old quarterly data.

From the first to second quarters of 2011, the number of people living in the United States who consider themselves IT security professionals - the IT workforce - showed a robust rise from 4,013,000 to 4,201,000, a gain of 187,000 or 4.7 percent, according to an Information Security Media Group analysis of BLS data. Among IT security analyst, the quarterly workforce soared from 37,000 to 43,000, a gain of 6,000 or 16 percent.

Because the BLS has never registered an unemployed IT security analyst since it introduced that occupation category at the beginning of the year, the workforce numbers and the employed numbers are the same (see Infosec Joblessness Remains Steady, at 0%). The IT profession as a whole, including IT security analysts, saw its jobless rate decline to 3.4 percent in the last quarter, a 0.8 point decline from the first quarter 2011. Strong numbers anyway you read them.

Keep in mind, because of the small sample size for each occupation category, statisticians find the numbers reported aren't statistically reliable. I've been analyzing BLS labor data for more than a decade, and agree they aren't statistically reliable. Still, I also have found the data, though not necessarily precise, are indicative of the employment environment in the IT field.

The IT field - especially the part that focuses on security - continues to grow, not only in employment, but in workforce. And, as the zero percent jobless rate among IT security pros strongly demonstrates, that field is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of American employers, in and out of government.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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