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Archive - 2014 Houston IT Hiring Trends

By James Del Monte, JDA Professional Services, Inc.

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2014 Houston IT Hiring Trends and Compensation Report

2013 was a good year for Houston. Salaries continued to rise, unemployment rates are low; conditions in Houston have been generally improving. Our 2014 Salary Survey of Houston IT suggested that 2014 will be overall similar in terms of growth. However, this comes with the caveat that this improvement is not uniform. While conditions in many areas are solidly improving, there are several where some shifts are occurring.

In our previous surveys, we examined the market shifts following the recent recession. Evidence demonstrated that a fixed base salary was an issue as the market slowed, forcing companies to cut staff. In response to this, many have begun to integrate variable pay in the form of bonus packages. This doesnít necessarily translate into more companies giving bonuses Ė in fact, seven percent fewer companies represented in our survey are giving bonuses in 2014 than in 2013. However, the amount is changing. In 2013, bonuses totaled roughly 8 percent of the base salary, but 2014 indicated 13 percent.

There are several possible explanations for this. First, there could be potential error due to particular companies represented in either yearís survey. There could also be reduced, or unadjusted, salaries with either fixed or raised bonus chunks. Perhaps companies are using variable, merit-based pay as a means to add a layer of reduction before resorting to downsizing.

Additionally, the market recovery of the past few years has led to an overall increase to salaries as well as to the total level of IT staff. Roughly half of all respondents indicated that their company was looking to increase their level of IT staff in 2014; only five percent suggested a decrease while the remainder did not foresee a change.

Curiously, the number of contractors and consultants has been rising as well. Since 2012, the number of respondents indicating work in either area has increased by 8 percent. The passage of the Affordable Care Act may play a role in this, especially in small to mid-size companies. Another area of note is in mobile apps. In the past few years, there was a significant trend pushing development. However, it would seem that while there is some evidence pointing to it being a fad (notably the backoff of resources and concern directed towards it), evidence is presented supportive of either end. The real question is: do mobile apps contribute positively to a business? Or are they nothing more than a bit of flash?

We see the utility of this in several areas, from easy online shopping to mobile and tablet-based credit card readers and the increased portability of many business offerings. But does this affect the bottom line? Being able to perform many functions on such a device is nice and does make interaction easier. If it is the case, and it does positively work with a business, why, then, are we seeing such a trend away from it? It almost seems as though full integration is inevitable.

Perhaps many companies have already established sufficient mobile support to accommodate all necessary uses. Perhaps they have analyzed it and concluded that it isnít as effective as traditional methods. Whatever the case, universal mobile support does seem to be a goal that is fast approaching.

Again, much of what we have seen is overall good news. Companies are expanding and moving offices. Many companies are doing big implementations such as R12 and SharePoint as well. Additionally, many are moving to Houston from other cities, or are moving around within the area. This has been a significant boost to construction, development, and real estate and also has helped to drive up the costs of rent. To this end, more companies have been offering H1ís this past year.

Though, not everyone moving is coming to Houston. There is a significant amount of traffic out of the Houston area. Of course, some of this can be attributed to retirement.

While Houston remains strong and continues to flourish, there are some changes occurring. With newer upgrades and technologies, companies have bolstered their productivity. With a better utilization of tools, higher production per hour is common. This also comes from increased automation in many areas. These changes result in cutting many lower-level positions as those roles are automated; which, in turn, brings about an increased need for IT workers to develop, install, and maintain these technologies.

To summarize some of the points from our survey:

  • IT unemployment in Houston is below 2 percent and 4 percent nationally.
  • 51 percent of Houston companies will be adding IT staff in 2014 and only 5 percent are planning to decrease.
  • More companies gave bigger salary increases (3-6 percent vs. 1-3 percent) and bonuses in 2013 than anticipated.
  • 63 percent of companies plan to give 3-6 percent salary increases in 2014.
  • 68 percent of companies plan to pay bonuses in 2014 with 47 percent in the 10-20 percent range.
  • In 2013, candidates received salary increases averaging 10-20 percent to move with more companies giving sign-on bonuses, relocation allowances, and sponsoring H1ís in order to attract talent. These trends are anticipated to continue in 2014.
  • There is a significant amount of corporate consolidation and restructuring anticipated in 2014. This will lead to an increased demand for IT professionals to integrate and standardize technology. This could also include corporate-level layoffs to eliminate redundancies.
  • Oil and gas, the backbone of the Houston economy, is booming. Many larger companies are headquartered in Houston or Texas and are expanding. Smaller, mid-size companies are growing and moving into Texas. This is resulting in a robust economy and a great employment market across the state.

About the Survey
The information gathered here was compiled from the responses of roughly 100 Houston-area IT managers, 62 percent of whom are the top IT person at their company.

How JDA can Help
With over 30 years of experience actively recruiting IT professionals in Houston, JDA is a great resource to identify and recruit the passive job seeker either on a full-time or contract basis. For more information on how we can help you build a great IT department, contact James Del Monte, President, at 713.548.5444 or jdel (at) jdapsi (dot) com.

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