The tech sector added 103,000 jobs from January through June 2013, a slight dip from the same period in 2012, according to a report from industry group TechAmerica Foundation. In the first half of the year, tech-sector employment reached nearly 6.2 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s a growth rate of 1.7 percent, compared with 1.8 percent in the same period a year ago. And what makes these numbers disappointing is it’s less than half of the 3.6 percent growth rate for the private sector as a whole.
The reason for the small tech job gains is the difficulty employers report having in “filling vacant IT and engineering positions,” according to TechAmerica’s report. This highlights the most pressing issue for the U.S. technology industry, the ability to access qualified workers.
The most recent government labor report shows most segments of the IT industry are basically even year-over-year. A slight rise in unemployment among those in computer and mathematical occupations has been attributed to more people entering those fields.
Tech and the Rest of Nation
Matthew Kazmierczak, Vice President and Head of Research for the TechAmerica Foundation, told Dice News there are several factors at work in the difference between the overall growth rate and that of tech.
“I would surmise that there are two possibilities for this: One, there is certainly a skills gap issue for the technology industry. There would certainly be more hiring if companies could find and hire candidates with the right skills,” he said. “And the second [reason], the private industry is in part playing catch-up at the moment. The overall private sector was hit harder by the recession, than the tech industry. From the height of employment to the depth, private-sector employment dropped by 10 percent compared to a 5 percent drop for the tech industry. As the economy slowly turns the corner, the hiring for jobs in the overall private sector has a lot more ground to make up to get back to where things were before the recession.”
Among the findings in the TechAmerica report:
- Tech jobs in the United States are classified in four basic ways: manufacturing, communications, software, and engineering. The biggest growth was in the last two categories, with software adding 40,000 jobs to come in at nearly 2 million and engineering adding 51,400 to add up to 1.7 million.
- Technology manufacturing added 3,500 jobs and communications services brought in an additional 8,400 jobs.
- The tech industry overall added 221,300 jobs from January 2012 to June 2013, a 3.7 percent increase.
In its state-by-state analysis published earlier this year, TechAmerica reported that 39 states had a net increase in tech jobs during 2012. The tech industry jobs represent 5.4 percent of the private-sector work force and pay higher average salaries.
Interestingly enough, labor market analytics firm Burning Glass International earlier this year reported that demand for cyber security experts is growing at 3.5 times the pace of the overall IT job market and 12 times faster than the total labor market.
And it said that software jobs are being listed at three times the pace of the overall job market, and that demand in the auto industry and other industrial sectors for software specialists is growing at an even faster pace.