Telecommunications Holds Back Tech Sector Job Growth

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U.S. tech sector hiring slowed for a second month in October, adding about 5,400 new jobs compared to more than 11,000 in August.

That’s according to CompTIA‘s analysis of Friday’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “Employment Situation” report. Tech occupations throughout the U.S. economy declined, as did the number of employer job postings for future hiring.

Telecommunications employment hindered overall tech employment numbers, declining by some 1,300 positions. Year-to-date industry job growth totals 96,500 new positions, and if telecommunications occupations were excluded, the total number of new jobs would be 127,300, according to CompTIA.

October’s employment numbers mirrored other recent economic indicators, which have shown marginal growth in some areas and slowdowns in others. But the unemployment rate for IT occupations is 2.2 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

CompTIA's Tim Herbert

CompTIA’s Tim Herbert

“Despite the underwhelming jobs figures for the month, tech industry employment year to date 2019 is tracking ahead of the same periods in 2018 and 2017,” said Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s executive vice president for research and market intelligence. “Big picture, enterprise demand for technologies to modernize and move the business forward continue to be robust. The overall outlook for tech employment remains positive.”

New hiring in custom software development and computer systems design occupations accounted for most of October’s job gains. The category grew by about 4,500 new hires.

October job growth was marginal in other technology employment categories: 1,200 new hires in other information services, including search portals; 600 in data processing, hosting and related services; and 400 in computer and electronics product manufacturing.

October also saw a drop off in the number of employer job postings for core technology positions, down nearly 28,000 from September. Still, employers advertised to fill positions in several critical categories, including software and application development, IT user support, systems engineers and architects, and systems analysts, according to CompTIA.

For the first time since the dot-com bust, there now are more open IT positions than qualified individuals to fill them, according to Janco Associates. It is taking IT functions longer to find candidates and salaries are moving up as a result.

“We are now starting to interview CIOs for our January 2020 IT Salary Survey and are finding that the time to hire new employees now is moving to be closer to three to four months from the time the position is approved and the individual is on staff,” said Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis. “In 2018, the time for the same process was closer to two to three months. As a result, we have reduced our forecast to just over 90,000 new IT jobs versus our earlier reported 100,000 forecast.”

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