Texas, Florida, North Carolina lead IT job growth in first half of 2014, study finds

IT employees realize their skills are in demand and are seeking bigger salaries from potential employers

IT professionals looking for a job should consider positions in some states that aren't seen as technology hot spots.

IT professionals looking for a job should consider positions in some states that aren't seen as technology hot spots.

U.S. technology professionals searching for jobs may want to look in states not normally considered IT hot spots.

The three states with the highest percentage of IT job growth for the first half of 2014 were Texas at 5.99 percent, Florida at 5.64 percent and North Carolina at 3.8 percent, according to a report from IT job site Dice.

The top 10 states in the report "are growing from a lower base compared to a state like California so it's more about the rate of growth," said Shravan Goli, president of Dice, which reached its findings by analyzing employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Companies in traditional technology hubs such as New York and California are still hiring, but those states have a larger employment base, he said. California employs the most technology professionals in the U.S. and New York, at 3.08 percent, had the sixth-highest growth rate in the first six months of the year, the report noted. Washington, home to Microsoft and Amazon.com, ranked fifth in the growth rate at 3.53 percent.

State governments realize the value of IT jobs, said Goli, and are attempting to bolster technology employment.

"They are creating incentives and programs to not only attract companies but also create a pipeline of technology professionals," he said.

For instance, some state universities in Florida have developed technology camps to train teachers how to teach the subject to students.

"Florida [is] investing early by getting sort of coding camps and other types of training programs into middle school and high school," said Goli. "They are thinking ahead."

Florida added 4,100 IT jobs in the first half of the year, nearly matching the 4,500 IT positions it created in 2013.

Companies from all industries and all parts of the U.S. are using technology, and need workers to develop and maintain these systems, said Goli. Many of the jobs businesses are filling involve mobile development, cloud computing, large-scale data analysis and cybersecurity, he said.

"Every company is becoming a technology company whether it's retail, finance, aerospace or e-commerce. They're all turning toward technology," he said.

Texas' technology hiring scene illustrates this point, said Goli. Houston's many energy companies drive much of that city's technology hiring. Several IT jobs in Dallas, home to retail companies and financial services firms, call for skills those industries rely on, like big-data analysis and e-commerce backgrounds. Traditional technology sector positions are found in Austin, where mobile and user-interface developers are in demand. Jobs requiring cloud computing knowledge are found in San Antonio, where cloud service provider Rackspace is located.

With 143,000 technology workers, Texas has the second-largest IT workforce in the U.S. The state has added 8,100 IT jobs in the first half of 2014.

Portland's technology scene helped Oregon, with 3.57 percent growth, take the fourth spot. The city "has really turned into a nice technology hub with a lot of support from the venture community. You see a whole bunch of startups coming in and incubators pop up there," said Goli.

Rounding out the list were Massachusetts in seventh with a growth rate of 2.91 percent, New Jersey in eighth at 2.84 percent, Michigan in ninth at 2.72 percent, and Missouri in 10th place at 2.1 percent.

In other hiring trends, Goli noted that an improving economy is providing companies with confidence to increase full-time jobs. While contract work is still popular, companies are starting to weigh the expense of consultants, who command high salaries for temporary work, against adding permanent positions.

"Companies now want to start developing these skills for the longer term and not just for the short term," he said.

Businesses realize that IT professionals have the technology skills that they previously turned to consultants to provide. For example, four years ago when companies were getting into mobile development -- a background many IT workers then lacked -- hiring a consultant was the easiest way to acquire those skills. "There are a lot more mobile developers now," Goli said.

But hiring full-time talent may come at a price. More IT candidates are rejecting job offers and asking for more money compared to six months ago, said Goli. Technology professionals are "choosier" and realize that employers need their skills.

IT professionals, though, are more open to relocating for a job, especially for the right compensation, he added.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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