If you’re a tech professional on the hunt for a new job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has some good news for you: The tech industry’s unemployment rate hit 1.9 percent in April, down from 3 percent a year ago.
That unemployment rate suggests the pool of available tech talent is particularly shallow, which means that tech companies are potentially willing to pay more to lock down the people they need. And who among us doesn’t like higher salaries and better perks?
There is a caveat, however: while companies need tech pros of all disciplines, they’re particularly hungry for those who specialize in “hot” categories such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning. For those with significant experience in building machine-learning algorithms, for instance, six- and seven-figure salaries aren’t out of the question.
Anyone who watches BLS data on a regular basis knows that certain technology segments can undergo wild (and sometimes seasonal) fluctuations, especially software developers, computer support specialists, and information security analysts. That “churn” means that, even in a tight labor market, new jobs will arise on a regular basis (and companies will continue to lay off some kinds of employees, even as they hire aggressively for different kinds of skills).
In order to meet their needs amidst such low unemployment, many companies are also turning to contractors and “gig economy” workers. For tech pros, the prospect of full-time “gigging” is often problematic; you don’t have the benefits of full-time employees, for starters, and the pay rate for projects is often lower than you’d like. Relying on gig workers has drawbacks for companies, as well—when a “gigster” leaves a project, there’s nobody left behind to provide updates or fix problems.
Organizations that monitor employment rates, such as CompTIA, also have a hard time tracking gig-economy workers, preferring instead to stick with “traditional” metrics such as full-time employed. That makes it difficult to obtain a complete picture of the tech industry’s health—but suffice to say, those tech pros with the right combination of experience and skills are in a good position to land the job they want.