US tech unemployment drops to 20-year low
With overall unemployment in the US sitting at 3.6%, the strategy of finding and attracting talent keeps getting more difficult for HR leaders. But for the technology sector, things are really getting tricky for recruiters and employers in the talent hunt.
An analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS’) Employment Situation report by CompTIA, a technology industry association, found that the unemployment rate for technology occupations in the US fell to 1.3% in May, a new 20-year low.
According to CompTIA, the tech sector’s drop is the lowest dating back to January, 2000, which also happens to be the earliest available detailed occupation-level data from the BLS. A previous low of 1.4 % occurred in March, 2018 and April, 2007.
Another tight talent indicator is that the tech sector’s employment rate for May remained positive, but with very modest growth compared to recent months as an estimated 5,800 new hires were added to the tech sector workforce.
“The data confirms what employers have been saying for months, and even years – the demand for tech talent has reached historic levels,” says Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA.
Herbert added that there was a very real prospect of tech worker shortages that could easily affect industry growth.
“Firms seeking to expand into new areas such as the Internet of Things, robotic process automation, or artificial intelligence may be inhibited by a lack of workers with these advanced skills, not to mention shortages in the complementary areas of technology infrastructure and cyber-security,” Herber explained.
When it came to job growth, technology services, custom software development and computer systems design expanded by an estimated 8,400 new hires, while gains in other employment categories didn’t fare as well. For example, computer and electronic products manufacturing added 1,600 new jobs, including 1,200 in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing. Hiring in data processing, hosting and related services remained stable.
On the downside, tech sector employment fell off in two other categories: search portals lost an estimated 2,600 positions, and telecommunications employment declined by some 1,700 jobs.
Software and application developers continue to be the most in-demand occupation companies are looking to hire, with 89,900 job postings last month. Other tech jobs companies were looking to fill included computer user support specialists (25,000), computer systems engineers and architects (22,100), computer systems analysts (20,100) and information technology project managers (17,600).
The US economy in general added 75,000 jobs in May, making it the 104th straight month of gains. Of course, that number fell far below economists’ forecasts for the month, which had been closer to 185,000 new jobs.