The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the U.S. economy created 292,000 non-farm jobs in December, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 5.0 percent.
The Professional and Business Services category (which includes a wide range of tech-related jobs, such as consulting) gained 73,000 jobs in December, driven in large part by gains in temp-help services. Last year, the category added 605,000 jobs overall—down from 2014, when job gains totaled 704,000.
Throughout 2015, the unemployment rate for the tech industry remained lower than that of the general economy, often hovering around 3 percent. Tech consulting, data processing, and other sub-sectors generally gained positions, although computer and electronic product manufacturing in the U.S. continues to see job declines due to a number of factors, including factory automation and offshore outsourcing.
Last year also saw a robust number of voluntary quits, as tech pros—perhaps feeling confident in a strong economy—decided to leave their current positions in order to pursue new opportunities. Combined with an upward trend in freelancing, it’s clear that many of those involved in the technology industry are interested in being captains of their own fate. That may also explain the prominence of temp workers in the latest trove of BLS data.
Strong numbers in 2015 bode well for early 2016. Although the U.S. stock market has tumbled in the first few days of the year, that’s seemingly more reflective of weakness in the Chinese economy than anything happening on the domestic front. Barring something catastrophic, tech pros can probably expect strong January numbers on the employment front.