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U.S. economy adds tech jobs

Computer manufacturing, telecommunications and tech services positions increased in April, according to U.S. Labor Department.

A variety of sectors in the technology industry added jobs in April, another sign of a possible turnaround in the employment scene for U.S. computer pros.

The broader U.S. economy also added a better-than-expected 274,000 nonfarm payroll positions, and the unemployment rate remained 5.2 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department's monthly jobs report.

Payroll jobs in computer and electronic-products manufacturing rose by 2,600 in April to 1.33 million. The telecommunications field bulked up by 6,700 jobs, to 1.04 million. And tech services jobs also were created. The computer systems design and related services sector added 1,100 jobs to 1.18 million, and the management and technical consulting services sector expanded by 3,400 jobs, to 799,400.

"The new (Bureau of Labor Statistics) numbers reflect what we are seeing regarding hiring in the technology sector," said Dion DeLoof, president of Anteo Group, an IT staffing and consulting company. "Hiring has been increasing at most of our Fortune 100 clients in their technology groups, and we are seeing this at our midsize clients as well. The job market is considerably better for application software developers compared to the third and fourth (quarters) of last year. Salaries are rising as well. Our clients are forecasting continued strength in the next couple of months regarding hiring."

The fatter tech payrolls amount to another bit of good news for workers in the tech industry, who weathered hundreds of thousands of job cuts in the wake of the Internet bust.

A recent report indicated that the U.S. tech industry may have reached the bottom of the trough last year when it comes to employment. In addition, technology professionals have reason to be cautiously optimistic about jobs at start-up companies. Venture capitalists have been raising increasing amounts of money, and the cash is expected to fuel a new wave of investments in fields including energy, wireless communications and the Internet.

Not all the signs are clearly positive, however. Tech pros face the threat of increased automation and the prospect of their jobs being shifted offshore. The average number of unemployed workers in nine high-tech categories fell by 64,000 last year but remained close to 150,000, according to the Labor Department. And in the first three months of this year, technology companies slashed nearly 60,000 U.S. jobs--twice the number trimmed in the same period last year.

Not all tech sectors added jobs in April, according to the Labor Department report. The sector made up of Internet service providers, search portals and data processing lost 800 jobs, falling to 392,000.