Ruby Programming Jobs in Serious Decline: Dice Data

What happened to Ruby? Once the darling of the web, the easy-to-learn language seems to have fallen out of favor. The number of Ruby jobs is in a nosedive.

The last time we really discussed Ruby was March 2018. Back then, language-tracking firm TIOBE said Ruby’s incremental gain in popularity was a positive sign. It blamed hipsters for falsely elevating the language before abandoning it for Objective-C and iOS development .

Ruby was the ninth most popular language on TIOBE’s charts at the time, up from the number ten spot a month prior. As language popularity goes, it seemed as though Ruby was poised to cement itself just inside the top ten. Instead, it’s fallen off, and now sits in the 16th spot on TIOBE’s list. Between March and June of 2018, a precipitous decline in Ruby’s use emerged.

Since June 2018, Ruby has been on a slow tumble down the list, each month seeing decreased use and popularity. It’s almost a bell curve; if you could fold TIOBE’s charts in half, you’d see the rise and fall of Ruby follow a mirrored trajectory.

Jobs are no different. The ebb and flow of Ruby jobs, like that of any skill or language-specific position, shows a trend. We routinely analyze jobs and skills, and there are always ups and downs – but most remain normalized to a degree. Ruby jobs, however, are bucking their own trend, and it warrants discussion.

Going back to Q1 2016, we saw Ruby jobs in a very healthy position (we attribute some first-quarter job numbers to contract renewals being posted). Similarly, a second-quarter dip in postings indicates those contract positions have been filled. Sometimes contracts are listed as a means of policy: companies aren’t sure if their contracted employees will want to renew, so they post the job as a safeguard. It’s normal.

We see Ruby jobs pick up in the Fall and Winter before a Q1 crescendo, and the pattern emerges. As you see above, 2017 was a touch more volatile than 2016; Ruby jobs dipped lower, and spiked harder, but the overall numbers were fine.

2018 is a totally different tale. The total number of Ruby jobs posted to Dice in Q2 2018 were higher than Q1 2018, which was unique. The drop between Q2 and Q3 in 2018 was also sharper than in previous years, dropping 36 percent in 2018. In 2016, between Q2 and Q3, the dip was ten percent. In 2017, the drop was 24 percent.

In 2016 and 2017, Ruby jobs stabilized between Q3 and Q4. In 2016, there was ten percent growth in this timeframe. In 2017, the number of jobs listed was almost identical (there was exactly one extra job listed in Q4 2017). In 2018, the number of Ruby jobs posted in Q4 was 30 percent lower than in Q3 2018.

Overall, the number of Ruby jobs in 2018 have declined 56 percent. Compared to the high-water mark in Q1 2016, the number of Ruby jobs posted to Dice has declined 61 percent.

At this juncture, the future of Ruby jobs is uncertain. They’re not going to vanish, but it’s clear the likes of JavaScript frameworks and Python are already usurping Ruby and Ruby on Rails, while upstarts such as Swift threaten longer-term viability. Now that it’s drinking age, maybe ‘all grown up’ Ruby is nothing but legacy codebases and fond memories of Rails.