Tech Unemployment Stayed Steady in Q1

Unemployment for a handful of key technology segments such as Web developers and computer systems analysts declined in the first quarter of 2017, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, the technology industry’s unemployment rate remained roughly steady year-over-year at 2.5 percent.

The technology industry continues to outperform the overall U.S. labor market, where the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent.

Anyone who watches BLS data knows that some segments undergo significant quarter-by-quarter swings in employment rates. The market for information security analysts underwent such a shift, for example, jumping from 1.20 percent in the first quarter of 2016 to 10 percent in the first quarter of 2017 (in the fourth quarter of 2016, it hit 6.90 percent). For most technology segments, however, the year-over-year adjustment was less than a percentage point, hinting at stability in the overall market.

In addition to Web developers and computer systems analysts, segments that saw a year-over-year dip in their respective unemployment rates included network and systems administrators, computer & information systems managers, and programmers.

Computer support specialists and software developers, meanwhile, saw their unemployment rates increase year-over-year.

BLS data suggests that the average rate of voluntary quits for technology jobs in the first two months of the quarter, the latest period for which data is available, stood at 617,500, a significant increase from the first quarter of 2016, when the rate hit 584,000. That suggests tech pros kicked off 2017 with a rosier view of the economy, compelling them to leave their current positions in search of new opportunities.

Meanwhile, the total average layoffs and discharges for technology jobs in January and February, the latest months for which data is available, stood at 379,500. That’s a significant decrease from the first quarter of 2016, when average layoffs and discharges for the industry hit 431,000. That’s also a good sign for tech pros across the country, many of whom are on the lookout for signs that the industry’s robust growth could weaken.

For more on voluntary quits and layoffs in the first quarter, download the Dice Tech Employment Snapshot (PDF), which also offers a range of nifty graphics and a breakdown of historical data.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/SFIO CRACHO

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