Wait, New Jersey Is Doing Better Than Us?

Inch by inch, Illinois’s tech sector is moving forward. A report from jobs website Dice.com finds that the number of tech jobs in the state rose 1.8 percent from the end of 2012 to June 30. That amounts to 1,200 new positions created and filled.

The good news? That puts us ninth in the rankings, two spots better than last year. The bad news? New Jersey finished first, with a 5.2 percent increase in tech jobs. Yes, that New Jersey.

Dice looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and workforce numbers in the field of “computer systems design and related services” from 22 of the most popular tech states. With the increase, Dice says Illinois now has 69,000 jobs in the tech sector, and they pay predictably well: the average annual salary is more than $83,000.

Recruiters are seeing evidence of the trend on the ground. “Software development and ERP systems customization has exploded in the last 18 months,” says Adam Kooperman, the principal staffing consultant at CultureFit, a tech staffing firm in Chicago. “Specifically Java, .net, and open source development for web services.”

Kooperman sees the trend continuing. The IT spending cycle is “three to five years and it’s cyclical, based on new major vendor platform deployment,” he says.

Spurring much of the growth, according to the study, are large, traditionally brick-and-mortar Chicagoland companies that continue to build out their online infrastructure, such as Sears and Walgreens.

“There’s a variety of different companies who are recruiting,” says Jennifer Bewley, vice president of investor relations at Dice Holdings. “Almost every company today is using technology to help their business, and so everyone is becoming a bit of a technology company, whereas maybe in the past they weren’t.”

Bewley projects that Illinois and Chicago’s recent success in the computer systems world will snowball. “Technology professionals are attracted to working on the leading edge technologies,” Bewley says. “Today, that’s big data, hadoop, mobile, cloud services. All of those can be found in Illinois.”