IT Jobs Move Back to U.S., But Not Where You Think

What does Aesop’s fable, “City Mouse, Country Mouse” have to do with you? Probably more than you think if you’re a technology professional. This simple fable is a great illustration of the mistaken thought that a city by definition provides more benefit than the country. There is a growing demand for technology talent outside urban areas and in some cases, the opportunities may provide more long-term benefit than a city job.

We are seeing a rise in reshoring initiatives across the country, and over the last few months many large U.S.-based companies have announced formal plans to move both manufacturing and the supporting technology jobs back to the continental United States in large part because of the work of The Reshoring Initiative. For example, both GE and Chrysler have announced major reshoring plans in 2012.

City Mouse, Country Mouse

So what does this mean to you? It means that now and in years to come, you’ll see growing numbers of full-time and contract technology positions opening up in areas of the country that you never thought to consider. For certain, pseudo-rural and rural community locations are being selected by companies more than urban areas to keep operational (salary) costs down and to take advantage of both federal and state/local subsidies.

Adapting to Life Outside Technology Hubs

As this trend continues and as companies identify locations to land their newly planted operations, you’ll want to consider the pro’s and con’s of a technical job in an area that may be very different than you’ve ever considered.

What You Need to Know:

1.) First, you’ll want to broaden your job search to include areas outside major technology hubs and large cities. Don’t limit your search. Look around a bit!

2.) Prior to writing off that job in the deep-south in a town called “Nowhere,” do research on the technology landscape of the town. Let’s say you come across a job posting in Maiden, N.C. (population 3,000). Would it change your mind to know that Apple recently opened a 500,000 square foot data center there?

3.) Take advantage of the vast amount of information at your fingertips through online research. Give the rural location a real look before saying “No.”

4.) Consider that small town culture may have hidden benefits like less traffic and fresh vegetables from the farmer down the road. Who knows, that little town may have some of the best bass fishing you’ve ever encountered and a tighter knit community for your child to grow up in.

5.) While technology salaries may be lower in a smaller town, it’s likely that the cost of goods and services will be too. Do your research before being dismissive of a lower salary.

6.) Speak to IT resources working in the town and be informed. Unfounded bias often leads to missed opportunities.

I’ve recently spoken with several technical professionals who’ve relocated their families to rural delivery centers and all seemed happy with their choice.

Two cited that the most pleasant thing they’d encountered was the opportunity to work on multiple technical platforms because there are smaller number of resources vying for the same opportunities. Another said they were drawn to the center even though the salary was lower, because the full-time job brought stability for his family. All the professionals I spoke with said their families had adjusted well and that they had few regrets about relocating.

The worst thing I’ve heard: “Lack of sushi.”

Lastly, like in Aesop’s fable,  if you decide to venture to the country, the potential benefit of not having to fight the crowd to get your portion just may shorten your pursuit for the opportunities you desire.

Related Links

The Reshoring Initiative []

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10 Responses to “IT Jobs Move Back to U.S., But Not Where You Think”

  1. This is a good trend. I just wish more corporations would be open to 100% telecommuting.
    IBM has been doing it for years so have a few others, There needs to be a national initiative
    to promote telecommuting. It saves on gas, it reduces wear and tear on the highway systems
    reduced number of accidents, the frustrattion of rush-hour, urban sprawl. insurance premiums
    would go down. It would drive the improvment of our network infrastructure. Just think
    Fibre-Optic all the way to the local-loop.

  2. I am glad to hear more IT jobs are coming back to the USA. A lot of our CS major staff are currently looking for IT positions and are not opposed to moving to smaller towns.

    I like your points and they are valid. Take the time to do the research before you make a knee jerk reaction about a location.

  3. Interesting article. But one thing I keep noticing are job posting that one applies to and nothign happens. Usually finding out the postion was filled internally or closed/eliminated. Then 1-2 months later you see the same job posted again and we go through the motions all over again.

    I just search entire states for opportunities now. But most of what I am seeing is still centered in major metro areas. I prefer more remote areas due to less stress, traffic, and much more relaxed work environment.

    As for telecommuting, that is nice. but some companies seem to be reversing that trend, requiring people to be ‘in the office’ now. Of course, even though the employees privately complain many are terrified to say anything for fear of being let go.

    • The Heretic

      ERIC, what you are describing is a real big problem in terms of labor dynamics. I’m finding in my research that there is a very high percentage of non existing and duplicate job listing on the resume mills. They drive the job search costs to obscenity and create a false impression of actual market demand.

      There are many reasons for this:
      Multiple recruiters working for the same employer
      Recruiters fishing for applicants with artificial lures (nonexistent positions)
      Fake listings to meet H1B legal requirement
      Fake listings to collect resumes for possible future vacancies
      Hiring requirements to fill a job internally.

      Here is the rub, the internet as brought the cost of these activities almost to zero with the job seekers paying most of the cost increases with wasted time, materials, and labor.

  4. Yes, it is always good to hear that jobs are returning from Mumbai, ‘et al. Yet many of the southern United States are still considered akin to third world countries by most educated individuals living throughout the rest of the populated world. I was born in Ohio and spent my formative years there. My parents moved the family south when I was still a wee lad. I have spent the majority of my life living in the southwest and southeast. I can list at least two negative aspects to living in the “deep country” south – homogenous is welcome and ignorance is the norm. Being an intellectual worker amongst anti-intellectuals in the south is not a pleasant experience. I assure you, this is anything buy unfounded bias. This is the voice of first hand experience. Maybe this is not the case at an Apple data center in North Carolina but I have a sneaking suspicion that Apple DC is not employing many locals. Still, I guess the few imported workers in the facility need haircuts and groceries so it’s a win-win, right?

  5. now what IdIot would fall for thIs c r a p knowIng that companIes lIke ge are known lIars and Insource the jobs to thIrd world scabs and support the same scummy recruItIng scum to fIll saId jobs wIth h1 candIdates only. more lIes In thIs artIcle folks.

  6. The Heretic

    “For certain, pseudo-rural and rural community locations are being selected by companies more than urban areas to keep operational (salary) costs down and to take advantage of both federal and state/local subsidies.”

    They are moving operations to the sticks to keep operational costs down. Think about that for a moment, because I’m actually seeing this in my data. One would think that taking a job for the same pay in the sticks would be beneficial because of the lower costs of living, but that doesn’t keep operational costs down does it?

    These new jobs in the sticks pay about 20k less don’t they? The employers want to capture the benefits for themselves. That is just the way the big business corporate sociopathic mind works. Job seekers need to be very careful. Moving costs are not cheap. Job search costs are not cheap. Continuing education costs are not cheap.

    Access to continuing education can be very limited especially when retraining is required. Access to other opportunities can also be limited in a one company town. Once you set roots and your spouse finds employment, moving becomes quite difficult. Mobility can also be limited because there are no real monetary advantages to moving back and forth because the companies are capturing all the financial benefits. This makes recuperating your moving expenses almost impossible.

    IT is an industry of pidgin holing employers which has lead to wage stagnation. As an IT worker you become an extreme specialist. Everyone in this industry knows that when dealing with pidgin holing employers the only way to get a raise is to move. Adding geographic issues to the formula can be very costly in terms of bargaining power. Without bargaining power, getting a cost of living wage increases to compensate for general inflation is difficult enough as it is; QE3 anyone.