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Study: CIOs to increase hiring

IT hiring is expected to reach its highest level since 2002, according to survey results from a staffing firm.

In the latest sign of better times ahead for techies, a new study has found that chief information officers plan to increase their hiring in the last three months of the year.

According to the report, released Thursday from staffing firm Robert Half Technology, 16 percent of executives polled plan to hire full-time information technology staff in the fourth quarter, while 4 percent expect personnel reductions. The net 12 percent expecting a hike in full-time IT headcount is the largest positive margin since the third quarter of 2002, Robert Half Technology said.

"Companies are making new investments in technology and initiating IT projects to support business growth," Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement. "As a result, managers are expanding their work forces once again, adding IT personnel gradually to meet individual staffing needs."

Robert Half Technology's national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

The study adds to encouraging news about the tech job scene. The U.S. economy generated 1,900 manufacturing jobs in computer and electronic products last month, reaching a total of 1.34 million in that category. In addition, 1,000 jobs were added in the area of computer systems design and related services, bringing that category's total to 1.19 million. Each of these categories gained at least 1,700 jobs in July as well.

What's more, a study released earlier this year indicated that the U.S. tech industry may have turned a corner last year when it comes to employment woes. And the parent company of job board Monster reported an uptick from July to August in its measurement of employer online recruitment activity for computer and mathematical jobs.

But not all developments in the employment market for techies have been sunny. A survey from staffing firm Hudson found that tech worker confidence in the job market dropped sharply in August, due partly to job-loss fears. A recent study from a labor organization indicated that technology workers in America are feeling less hopeful about the future of their profession than they were two years ago. In addition, tech-sector downsizing for the first half of 2005 far exceeded industry job cuts during the first half of last year.

Computer professionals also face the threat of increased automation and the prospect of their jobs being shifted offshore.

Nonetheless, Robert Half Technology's Spencer Lee suggested techies are enjoying growing clout in the job market. She said the improving employment environment, combined with a decline in the number of computer science graduates, is slowly shifting the market in the candidate's favor. "Technology professionals with the most desirable skill sets are beginning to receive multiple offers," she said. "Individuals who may have been dissatisfied in their positions in recent years also are starting to pursue other opportunities, making employee retention a growing concern for companies."

According to the report, CIOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector forecast particularly strong IT hiring activity in the fourth quarter. The Pacific states led the nation in projected IT hiring activity, Robert Half Technology said, and networking remains the specialty most in demand.