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Tech Employment Continues Roller Coaster Ride in August

Rollercoaster

Tech employment showed some encouraging signs last month as tech companies returned to hiring, adding about 9,200 new workers.

However, tech hiring across all sectors dropped for a second month.

That’s according to CompTIA‘s review of the latest Employment Situation report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. technology employment in August continued its up-and-down trend that has characterized much of 2020.

IT jobs with employers across all sectors of the economy experienced a second consecutive month of losses. Some 323,000 positions were cut. For the year, IT occupations had positive gains in five months, offset by losses in three months. That results in a net positive of 271,000 new jobs through August.

CompTIA's Tim Herbert

CompTIA’s Tim Herbert

“On the tech industry employment side, it’s encouraging to see the pickup in hiring among IT services and software firms, especially given the large number of SMBs in that sector,” said Tim Herbert, CompTIA‘s executive vice president for research and market intelligence. “On the tech occupation employment side, the data does run counter to expectations. So we have to be careful not to read too much into any single month. The macro trend, however, remains unchanged with a continuation of the positive tech employment trajectory.”

Reductions Offset Gains

The categories of IT services and custom software development (+12,800), and computer and electronic products manufacturing (+2,300) saw employment growth. Those numbers were offset somewhat by job reductions in data processing, hosting and related services (-3,200) and telecommunications (-2,700). Employment in other information services, including search engines and portals, was unchanged.

The unemployment rate for IT occupations inched up in to 4.6% in August. By historic comparison, IT occupation unemployment peaked at about 6.5% during the Great Recession (2007-2009) and the dotcom bust (2000-2002).

U.S. employer postings for IT jobs totaled nearly 228,000 in August. That’s down slightly from July. Software and application developers, IT support specialists, systems engineers and architects, systems analysts and IT project managers led the list of positions companies are looking to fill.

Among specific industry sectors, professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, and information had the highest numbers of August postings for IT positions.

The Worst ‘Is Over’

Janco Associates said the worst is over for the IT job market. Initially, 105,000 IT pros lost their jobs due to COVID-19 shutdowns. By the end of the year, however, that number will be 64,600.

Normal IT hiring won’t resume until late in the fourth quarter, if not early 2021. Janco said the recovery of the IT job market won’t be until the second quarter of 2021.

Janco's Victor Janulaitis

Janco’s Victor Janulaitis

“We have found that a number of companies have already shuttered their doors or are expanding layoffs that are impacting the IT job market,” said Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis. “This includes the airline and travel industries that are now starting layoffs. As a result, IT professionals working for those companies are looking for new employment opportunities. IT hiring will remain soft but improving slightly until after the election, when the public feels they can go back to a normal life, and more companies open their doors. Hindering recovery is the continued civil unrest, which is slowing confidence by the public, which in turn impacts corporate confidence.”

For the first time in six months, there was a net gain in the number of IT jobs, Janco said. However, there’s still a net loss in the last 12 months coming from computer systems design/related services and telecommunications. Those cut 55,700 and 26,100 respectively.

Spending for IT products and services has all but stopped as companies reevaluate the state of the economy globally as new waves of selected shutdowns occur,” Janulaitis said. “With more companies adopting work from home to address social distancing and avoiding in-office contacts, fewer companies are taking an aggressive approach to any additional spending for IT products and services.”


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