Last week, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget released a data report showing 17,000 more workers had jobs in the state during March, with the number of unemployed workers falling by 14,000. This encouraging news came on the heels of the Michigan jobless rate dropping to its lowest level since the summer of 2008 in March, to 8.5 percent.
While I agree with many economists that a pre-2008 unemployment level may never be achieved given the impact the recession had on companies’ productivity levels and newfound ability to do more with even less, I believe we will continue to see glimpses of recovery like these throughout the year.
A significant factor contributing to this recent rebound is the growing reputation of Detroit and Southeast Michigan as an IT hub, similar to other cities including Silicon Valley, Austin, Research Triangle and others. The technology industry across the country is experiencing tremendous growth stemming from sector dynamics such as, the emergence of the third platform which includes cloud computing, social technologies, big data analytics and mobility. Software developers are also in high demand and is the occupation producing the most jobs post-recession, adding more than 71,000 jobs since 2010.
For Detroit in particular, the technology boom is certainly hitting close to home as we become increasingly known as an innovative technology hotbed. In fact, consider these recent highlights:
- Fast Company has included Detroit in its list of “10 Underrated Hotbeds of American Innovation”
- Automation Alley ranked Detroit fifth nationally in technology sector jobs
- Michigan recently awarded $1 million to build a Detroit Technology Exchange, an initiative that among other things will create four programs, including a 10 week summer boot camp geared towards helping college students learn how to launch a technology-based company
All of these initiatives stand to bring more IT jobs to the city of Detroit and across the State. However, the big hurdle will reside in building a supply of IT talent to help fill the demand. In fact, the IT unemployment rates nationally hover between 3-4 percent, extremely low compared to rates overall.
Many companies will continue to rely upon IT staffing and recruiting firms such as ours to achieve cost-savings while tapping into a database of highly-skilled IT talent – many of whom choose to expand their resume, skill sets and experience through staffing companies because they offer diversity in employers and in innovative assignments. In fact, Staffing Industry Analysts projects IT staffing to grow eight percent in 2013, with IT buyers reporting an average of 13 percent savings from using contingent IT workers.
All in all, the future is looking bright for Detroit. Or, should I say DetroIT?