- In June, IT employment added 227,000 positions across industries, according to a CompTIA analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In May, 28,000 net technology positions were added to the economy.
- Tech sector employment dipped by 5,600 jobs last month, a comparatively small decrease for the sector that shed 34,000 jobs in May as the economy contracted. In April, the tech sector lost 111,900 net positions.
- Improvement in tech sector hiring is driven by areas such as tech manufacturing, which added 7,300 net jobs in June. Data processing, hosting and related services added another 5,600 positions to its ranks. In contrast, the IT services and custom software development segment of tech shed a total of 20,400 positions in the same timeframe.
As sectors of the economy adapt to the realities of the pandemic, the tech industry shifted priorities to focus on sustaining operations.
Nuance is key when analyzing employment numbers, but the overall direction of the trend over the past few months is encouraging, according to Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA.
Heavier reliance on technology across industries "has provided the stability that we've seen within tech occupations relative to many other sectors," said Herbert, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Pandemic-induced dips in tech sector employment can be explained in part by companies scaling back their non-technical workforce, according to Herbert. Vendors with retail presence may have furloughed or laid off employees. Other companies have cut back on customer support roles.
Microsoft recently announced it plans to shut down its physical Microsoft Store locations, though it does not expect to layoff staffers as part of the move, according to a LinkedIn post by David Porter, Corporate VP at Microsoft Store. At an all hands meeting in April, Apple CEO Tim Cook did not rule out layoffs as the company navigated uncertain economic conditions.
In the recovery of tech sector employment, not all areas can offer encouraging signs.
June's 20,400 lost positions in IT services and custom software development indicate sustained impact to the comparatively smaller IT firms, which are "always going to be more sensitive to any disruption in customer spending," Herbert said.
Last month, the unemployment rate among IT occupations was 4.3%, a slight uptick from 3.7% in May. National unemployment rates more than doubled that of IT positions, at 11.1%.
A small IT firm with heavy concentration of customers in hard-hit sectors such as retail, restaurants or travel is less likely to offset those losses, at least in the short term. As the economy begins to restart, not all small firms are struggling to make it through.
"Some are doing very well and in fact have more work than they can handle," said Herbert, especially those working in critical areas to sustain operations, such as security or those that help enable remote work.
The pandemic impacted demand from startup and enterprise clients differently, said Jedidiah Weller, founder, CEO and head of technology at Philadelphia-based app development shop OpenForge.
"We haven't really seen a huge change in enterprise," Weller told CIO Dive. "For the most part I'd say everyone is shifting budgets around, so projects have changed and the timing of those projects have changed. But we haven't seen any substantial budget cuts for projects that were already existing."
In startup world, change has been more marked, as constraints in venture capital funding led some companies to pivot or back off projects, though that side of the business has remained a net neutral for OpenForge, Weller said.