Trump & Tech: Unemployment Reaches Surprising Historic Lows

Is Donald Trump good for tech? According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tech unemployment has reached record lows with Trump in the Oval Office.

We dove all the way back to the year 2000, analyzing tech unemployment (“Computer and Mathematical Occupations,” specifically) each quarter. Under Trump (specifically the first quarter of 2018) tech unemployment was at 1.4 percent. The previous low in our research was 1.7 percent back in Q2 2000 under George W. Bush.

The difference between those two data points is job creation. Bush was just coming into office, and riding a massive wave of job growth from Bill Clinton’s eight years in office. Zippia also analyzed BLS data to surface that Clinton created the most jobs of any president going back to Jimmy Carter’s term (1976-1980).

Trump succeeded Barack Obama, who had the unenviable task of taking over at the nadir of the worst recession in modern history. It wasn’t until his second term that job growth really took off… and never looked back.

The first year of a presidency often enjoys a residual effect from its predecessor. Most times, it’s positive (save for Obama, who took over as job numbers began to tank hard under Bush). Trump is bucking the trend of job growth trailing off, though; now into his second year, he’s not seeing the same downturn in job growth as previous presidents. (Other Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all saw job growth decline by their 16th month in office, with Reagan’s downturn taking effect in his sixth month.)

Zippia Job Growth Job Creation Tech Unemployment President Trump

Trump Term Working for Tech, But We’re Not Safe (Yet)

Say what you like about Donald Trump’s behavior, policies, and procedural ignorance… the tech jobs market seems unfazed by it all.

As you can see in the chart below, tech unemployment since 2000 has never been above 6.5 percent, reaching that point only twice: Q1 2003 and Q1 2010. The 2003 data-point represents the lowest job growth for Bush, but a period of resurgence for Obama. Trump’s job growth numbers (so far) are trending steadily upward.

(We’ll take a moment to note we purposefully limited our retrospective scope to the year 2000. In many ways, comparing the tech sector now to the Clinton or Reagan era seems incongruous. We could even argue analyzing tech unemployment pre-iPhone is a reach.)

Tech unemployment under Trump has never been above three percent, reaching that point in Q3 2016.

But we’ll express caution. Obama’s tech unemployment ratio was at 1.9 percent his second quarter in office, and 5.7 percent nine months later. Less than two years after taking office (again, in a massive recession), tech unemployment was at 6.5 percent.

Trump’s tech unemployment numbers waver, but they’re nothing unpresidented unprecedented. From Q4 2017 to Q2 2018, tech unemployment dropped from 2.8 percent down to 1.4 percent; that’s a 50 percent drop in tech unemployment in six months. That’s great, but not unique: Bush had the same 50 percent drop in 2005, and Obama’s wild ride saw several similar peaks and valleys with regard to tech unemployment.

It’s worth pointing out that Trump is also taking steps to shore up these unemployment figures. His administration’s most recent proposal against the H-1B visa status quo would see more advanced degree holders get visas, theoretically leaving more tech jobs open to citizens of the United States.

The tech unemployment figures are promising, but we’re in uncharted waters. Not adhering to the typical ebbs and flows of previous presidential terms and unemployment numbers isn’t indicative of anything. The tentative space of this unknown universe may be worrisome; without predictors, we can’t identify when a massive jobs downturn may come.

It’s almost impossible to identify why Trump has seen such successful tech unemployment figures this far into his term. It’s possible Obama’s legacy of economic growth is still in effect; the beginning of his tenure was also historically unique, so it’s just as plausible the work done in those eight years is still holding fast.

But it’s just as likely the tech economy is bouncing to a different beat than the news cycle, nullifying any negative effect the president may have. Let’s just hope the positivity continues.

For a full look at monthly tech unemployment data dating back to January 2000, please see our interactive chart below!

26 Responses to “Trump & Tech: Unemployment Reaches Surprising Historic Lows”

  1. Since you can go back in your research to Reagan days how about also presenting a chart of progression of tech INCOMES over time, as compared with the cost of living index and the value of the mighty US dollar.

    You will see a totally different curve.

    • I saw my rates crater during the Obama years as I had to compete with cheap foreign Imported labor. And Obama helping Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc. by doubling the H1B program through the F4 visas Crushed us also. Trump has been trying to turn that crap around as best you can without the support of Republicans – – Who are also beholden to the Tech corps. The Democrats want immigrants Because I think I can throw them into voters, and the Republicans want immigrants to support the corporate donors with cheap labor.

  2. Any “Obama’s legacy of economic growth” was despite his policies AND 0% interest rates, not because of the policies. Take an Econ 101 course and it is obvious his policies were designed to hinder the economy and kneecap the US — either that or the folks making policy were truly idiots and ideologues. Where Trump deserves credit was trying to get the Govt out of the way of the economy — this happened to be the Clinton economic policy. Tax cuts, deregulation, not punishing banks and businesses, etc ; theses are good economic policy (econ 101) Writing about “Obama’s legacy of economic growth” shows the writers ignorance OR bias. I will add that hampering H1-B is good for tech wages. Any techies who do not support Trump are self destructive OR purchased Hillary and the Democrats — ie Google, Facebook, etc executives.

        • I was laid off from a long-term permanent job the Friday after Hussein was re-elected.

          Butthurt is not moving on after a war criminal (destabilizing Libya and using it as a base to run weapons into Syria and destabilize it also, thereby causing a mass exodus of refugees into Europe) L-O-S-T an election after it was supposedly in the bag because of all their dirty tricks and a compromised FBI.

          Go troll on RT or something, but leave the WORKING folks alone.

    • Andrew Mc

      Tax cuts and deregulation are NOT good economic policy. Deregulation could be if the right regulations are cut, but most regulations are good. Only a few are bad. Random deregulation helps cheating businesses win over those who play fair.
      Tax cuts reward the profitable, established businesses, which reduces competition, which creates inefficiency in the market. They only make sense when tax rates are super high, which they aren’t.

  3. Obama blew the chance to be a great president by being an economic ideologue. Yes he inherited the great recession, but if he Had used the opportunity and the Nearly trillion dollars in stimulus money To improve the nations infrastructure (roads,ports, rail, airports, etc) instead of flushing it down the toilet on “social programs” and not done stupid things like create the consumer financial protection bureau, Sue the banks, regulate the crap out of everything, increased cost of energy and food, The economy would’ve taken off and we would’ve had a typical V-shaped recovery. Instead the Fed kept rates at near 0% And Obama kept up with his foolish policies and we had a rough week tepid recovery. And let’s not forget not letting housing prices return normal through foreclosures, bailing out the UAW instead of the car manufacturers, cash for clunkers, war on coal, flooding the country with illegal immigrants, etc. etc.

    • Exactly. Qualified, competent American citizens in STEM are being pushed out in favor of foreigners. The claim is that visa holders are more qualified or “better” coders etc. which is an outright lie. Most are incompetent, while some are a skill match with US workers, yet they get the job over those Americans.

      What’s the attraction? Is it that they kiss butt and do what ever they are told without questioning? Is is because an American will stand up for themselves, and managers prefer sheep? Or it because they don’t mind doing “dirty” work?

      Foreign workers are not “so much cheaper,” to employ as many people claim either. I’ve heard many foreigners brag about how much money they’re making. They can afford to purchase expensive homes in the US.

      We have thousands of unemployed STEM Americans, this has been proven and bough up again and again, yet instead of reducing the number of work visas to account for that, Trump and his administration just INCREASED the the number of work visas allowed.

      The number of actual Americans working in American tech will be getting even smaller. I contract and freelance just to make ends meet. I pay my family’s medical bills out of pocket. And, our rates keep dropping.

      I’m still sitting here, working my butt off and paying high rents while I watch citizens of India and other countries buy great American homes in great American neighborhoods while I struggle to find non-contract work and support my family. What makes it even harder to cope with is that they have the nerve to laugh at us and treat us with distain. They literally brag and say they’re hired because they are so much better at tech then Americans. That’s total bull*%it.

      I have 17 years experience in technology, and I’m good at my job. I work hard to stay current and learn new skills. For a while, I really thought it was me, and was feeling very hopeless and frustrated. I started participating in multiple tech chats, and as it turns out, I’m not alone. Thousands of American tech people are all looking for work, while foreigners with work visas are well employed with health benefits and good salaries. Not as contractors either, but as direct hires.

      Decision makers are choosing visa holders over their fellow American citizens. It needs to stop. We have families and people counting on us. We paid our dues and this is our country. If we want to work and are qualified, or willing and able to learn, we should be given these jobs first. That should be the focus here. Tech jobs for Americans not tech jobs for foreigners.

    • Andrew Mc

      The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps the average person not be cheated out of their money by huge, deceptive companies. Anyone who has seen what it’s done, and thinks it’s bad, either misunderstands it, or is an owner of a huge, deceptive company.

  4. Your methodology is wrong. You are not accounting for the employment of foreign workers. Creating jobs is of no value if the jobs go to foreign workers. Less than half of our qualified STEM workers are employed in a job requiring their degree.

  5. Some income better than nothing is important. If we compare 50yrs ago may the $ value is 10 time more. I dont know!
    If L1/H1/F1/E1 and immigration chain, short cut to green card, birth right citizenship methods/illegal/refugees are reduced by 90% US born generations have good life!

  6. wageslave

    There is so much wrong with this article that I don’t know where to begin. First, unemployment numbers are a better than nothing compromise made on the availability of cheap unemployment insurance claims data. Has been from day one. This data has become a useful tool for propaganda misdirection because the target audience thinks the numbers mean something different than what it actually means. Or, I should say the target audience can be convinced of the new meaning. Unemployment numbers are a very short term indicator of unemployment claims direction and severity. Not actual unemployment. Comparing from year to year is misleading at best. When it comes to actual unemployment the only numbers that mean anything is non-farm payroll which is based on actual employment numbers.
    The article further states, “Trump succeeded Barack Obama, who had the unenviable task of taking over at the nadir of the worst recession in modern history.” Recession are measured in quarters. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. They are over when two consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth occurred. The recession was over in Obama’s first term. What Obama inherited was a depression measured in decades and now Trump has inherited it. The 20 to 30 million unemployed were not absorbed by job creation. Non-farm payroll doesn’t support that.
    “It wasn’t until his second term that job growth really took off… and never looked back.” Show me where non-farm payroll adjusted for new entrants took off. It lumbered along at about the same pace as it is now. At the current rate of job growth it would take over 40 years to absorb 20 million unemployed. So where did all these unemployed go to if job creation didn’t absorb them. The answer is forced retirement, under employment, and gave up looking. Gave up looking is a real indicator pointing to a depression. From that perspective, we haven’t really recovered.
    I don’t have time right now to go into the decades of wage stagnation which is the real culprit. Not the policies of any particular administration. This whole article nonsense with rose colored glasses.

  7. I think the data are not matching. In one article at Dice from same days ago post that the income reduce 14% from 20 years ago without considered inflation, putting inflation was 70% drop of income. Now you say unemployment is haft of it was 20 years ago. What is going on ?????????????. Why do the massive demand are not increasing the wages, actually the wages are reducing.

  8. I just retired at 63(thank God) after plateauing in 2002 or so (9/11 gave all financial IT management the incentive to make it so you were grateful for a job). All kinds of Microsoft, Cisco, Voice, Video, Wireless knowledge, some certs but outsourcing and age (turned 50 in 55) meant no leverage. When things go to the cloud the infrastructure jobs disappear and although I do know some coding you really can’t retrain at 50 unless you want to work 50 hrs/week and train 20 on your nickel. My daughters are in heath care (nurse p and occ therapy) and I hope them and their fiances have a better last 15 years than I did.

  9. This article doesn’t even consider the forced retirement of so many older workers. People in their 40s are complaining about age discrimination; they haven’t seen anything yet. It also doesn’t consider the impact of automation. While it may not directly impact IT workers yet, it will as companies will do anything to lower costs and increase ROI for shareholders.

    Wages still haven’t fully rebounded while the cost of living continues its upward trend. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that it costs people more to live while they are making less money. How nice of the credit card industry to step in and “help” us.

    The reason many of us hold on to jobs we aren’t really happy in is because of health insurance. The real reason that companies don’t want to see Medicare for All is that it will enable employees to move more freely and drive up wages to where they should be. We are expected to be experts in many different technologies and work like a dog to meet unrealistic deadlines and we should be paid accordingly.

  10. The unemployment rates are a lie. Tech pros that dropped out of the market because they couldn’t find jobs is not taken into account. Older tech people are thrown into the garbage. Trust me, I’m one of them.

  11. I agree with Joey being 62, unemployed and having just “endured” a contract with some of the “offshore” groups. At this point, and I have to work 4 more years before I retire, I’m debating if I should stay in IT, my career for the last 35 years. Some of this article may be true depending on what part of the country one lives in. Here in the mid-west, H1Bs are invading everything.

  12. The article does not go into details but the number look like garbage to me. If they are bisecting the amount of tech unemployed from the typically used U3 rate rather then the U6 rate then the majority of displaced older workers are being filtered out. This incorrectly factors out the rampant age discrimination in technology that even these Dice authors have written is a major factor in tech unemployment.

    Such workers are more likely to have been unemployed for more than 6 months. Many would be underemployed having to take jobs elsewhere. The are probably not considered tech employees for the purpose of this survey

  13. Let’s be straight, Trump has done ABSOLUTELY nothing to correct the H1-B issue. He promised to end the program and instead tries to con the masses into believing this will make some difference. Well, it won’t!

  14. Clinton's Illegal Personal Server

    It’s quite humorous how the author overlooks the disastrous economy that GW Bush inherited from Clinton — anyone ever heard of the “dot com bust” in early 2000? Must be because Bush didn’t whine about his “predecessor” every 5 minutes like Obama did.

    All of that on top of the catastrophic 9-11 terrorists attacks less than 8 months into the Bush presidency — courtesy of the Clinton administration completely ignoring the intentions of terrorists even after a previous attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993.

    As for Trump in the here-and-now, he’s done a phenomenal job with the economy. Primarily by cancelling out most of Obama’s Executive Orders and other Leftist policies that did nothing but destroy U.S. job growth, promote part-time job creation instead of full-time jobs, and otherwise ship U.S. jobs overseas.

    • Eltechnico

      Right on Trump has tech running look at all the mass tech companies on a hiring spree-Amazon, Google then Apple announced thousands of new jobs created in California and Texas sure local government is loosening zoning other burdensome regulations that allow these tech behemoths to create prosperity. Unlike government jobs that cause higher taxes but private sector employment that pay taxes into the system.