On the employment front, 2015 turned out to be a good year for the technology industry, with low unemployment and a high rate of voluntary quits.
Although the unemployment rate for tech fluctuated throughout the year, hitting 3.4 percent in November, it remained well below that of the general economy, which hovered at around 5 percent by the end of the year.
This past year also saw a generally strong number of voluntary quits, another important metric when it comes to judging the health of the tech sector. As 2015 headed toward its close, roughly 500,000 tech pros were choosing to leave their jobs every month. In theory, many of them depart to pursue better opportunities at other companies (or in freelancing), something they’re more inclined to do when the economy is stronger.
Nationwide, there’s also been an upward trend in freelancing. A recently survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union had a majority of those surveyed saying they earned more via freelancing than traditional employment, with a full three-quarters insisting that technology had made it easier to find new work. (But the freelancing life isn’t effortless; tech pros considering the contracting life, though, should prepare by building up their network and brand, along with any relevant skill-sets.)
When it comes to employment, however, not all tech categories are created equal. Although sub-industries such as consulting and development have enjoyed strong growth over the past several quarters, manufacturing remains a bleak spot. As production processes become more automated, and companies offshore manufacturing work, the number of American manufacturing jobs has steadily eroded. (Weaker demand for electronic products and hardware such as PCs hasn’t helped, either.)
But for computer systems analysts, programmers, software developers, computer & information systems managers, and others in the tech industry, the job situation seems to be strong heading into 2016.