Tech Unemployment Hits 19-Year Low

Tech unemployment hasn’t been this low since the turn of the century, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data crunched by CompTIA.

As of May, tech’s unemployment rate sat at 1.3 percent. “There is now the very real prospect of tech worker shortages affecting industry growth,” Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “Firms seeking to expand into new areas such as the Internet of Things, robotic process automation or artificial intelligence may be inhibited by a lack of workers with these advanced skills, not to mention shortages in the complementary areas of technology infrastructure and cybersecurity.”

Tech’s unemployment rate previously hit 1.4 percent, in April 2007 and March 2018. (The BLS began measuring occupation-level employment data in January 2000.) However, not all segments within tech are adding jobs at the same rate; although custom software development and computer systems design gained 8,400 new positions in May, for example, both information services and telecommunications saw modest losses.

Meanwhile, new data from PayScale suggests that wages within the tech industry grew 2.3 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019. That’s an indicator that the low unemployment rate is forcing employers to pay more in order to secure the talent they need. 

And that’s very good news, because Dice’s data showed tech salaries stagnating between 2017 and 2018, when they only increased 0.7 percent, to an average of $93,244. As we noted in this year’s Salary Survey, some 68 percent of tech professionals are interested in changing employers in order to receive higher compensation (well ahead of those who said they’d jump jobs for better working conditions or more responsibility).

The other question is how long the tech industry can maintain its stellar unemployment rate. When it comes to employment, what goes down will inevitably go up at some point, driven by larger circumstances outside of the industry’s control. Even if your career is going spectacularly at the moment, it always pays to keep your skills up-to-date—you never know when you’ll need to apply to a new gig.

19 Responses to “Tech Unemployment Hits 19-Year Low”

  1. MHolland

    Interesting post, but would like to know what the overall employment situation is for those IT pros over 45 or 50. Ageism is all too real even in this market. I encountered it after my last two layoffs in February 2015 and again in September 2017, but ultimately found a far better job at a company that only cared about whether I could do the job well regardless of being over 55 at the time. From what I’ve seen in comments about this specific topic, many people in my age bracket are finding it increasingly more difficult to find adequate positions after layoffs.

  2. The year over year rise of salaries is useful only as it compares to the cost of living increase in the same year. If you plot the hourly rates of consultants against the value of the dollar over the past 30 years you see rates that are stagnant straight line while the value of the all mighty USD has dropped to 1/3 of its value in the 80s.

    Or in other words, the rates have dropped to 1/3 of their 1980s equivalent.

    • wageSlave

      “Meanwhile, new data from PayScale suggests that wages within the tech industry grew 2.3 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019. That’s an indicator that the low unemployment rate is forcing employers to pay more in order to secure the talent they need.”

      Those of us that study propaganda techniques will recognize this as technique called pace, pace, lead. Only it was not done correctly. You’re supposed to give two facts and then an opinion masquerading as a fact leading to a false conclusion.

      Let me interpret the paragraph. Tech wages are not keeping up with inflation. That is an indication that wages are flat and continuing to go in the wrong direction. Pace, Pace, Employers are continuing to undervalue talent as they continue to create shortages by suppressing wages under the equilibrium price.

      Meanwhile, back in the outhouse things are piling up as technology employers continue cutting their healthcare costs by getting rid of older employees. Hardly the behavior you would expect to see if shortages were in deed driving up wages.

      • “That’s an indicator that the low unemployment rate is forcing employers to pay more in order to secure the talent they need.”

        Really? I had a recruiter contact me just yesterday about an urgent need that one of his clients had for someone to come in as a contractor for a rather short-term project. He rattled off the typical laundry list of technical requirements — a list that would normally be done by several people — and then mentioned that they were looking to pay no more than $30/hour. That’s pretty darned cheap for a hit man.

        The days of people being hired back by their former employers as contractors and at higher pay than they took as FTEs are long, long gone.

  3. Garble

    What are you, a tech or an economist? The article is not about your analysis of the US dollar or inflation. The article is great news for young people coming into the job market and for existing techs thinking about “trading up” to a better job with better pay.


  4. Bio-Coastal IT Pro

    Real World please, the inbound recruiters (offshore call centers), do not understand the “Key Words or long tales” for which they find candidate. HEDIS, OEM, CRO, CMO, too many to list. “Offshore firms operate as if a “TANK-Panzor” were recruiters change resumes. Inbound recruiters, call repeatedly hang up and use another voip # as many as 4 times…Great when you’re with your manager… The recruiters are incorporating in NJ, CT, CA, UT, TX, MI) breaking US laws, as offshore place HR “Buddy Hiring” suddenly contracts are for insiders, utilizing the minority ownership grants, as well the multiple tiers or layers of the interview process…is slowing the US hiring process. When a client hires, they have too many names on the billing…so the client doesn’t understand who’s really do int the work…So I talk to the investor if a startup as the consultant usually has no clue, their speciality is in bank ing vs healthcare. Recruiters who actually have the direct contract get tired of the delays from offshore, they end up calling to reduce the process as the hiring manager is upset. Hiring is slowing as US recruiters outsource their 150 daily calls to place one candidate. Look a Taleo, OMG look at the increased open JDs…HR decides to outsource to offshore…lol

  5. RJ Levesque Jr

    There is NO shortage of techs here in the US!!! That is BS made up by big corporations that would rather hire cheap immigrants or college kids rather than pay for REAL American talent right under their noses!

    • Rsstlin

      As someone who has an associates and has been looking for an entry level tech job for a year with little success, your comment is b.s. “REAL American Talent” has no age. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 61. If you have the required skills to do the job, you should be considered. To suggest “college kids” are anything other than real talent is an insult.

  6. I honestly don’t believe that there’s a lack of IT workers without jobs. I have been working for three years to get a simple Entry Level Help Desk job and have not had any luck, despite having a BS in Cybersecurity. I admit I’m not amazing at interviewing, but I’m not bad. I’ve had some pretty great interviews, yet I’m still left disappointed when I’m passed over. I just want to get my foot in the door, but it seems impossible by this point. Even without experience, I would think that someone would hire me because of my degree, considering many sources claim that Cybersecurity is one of the top desired skills in IT. A simple help desk job shouldn’t be this hard to get, considering kids straight out of high school can get one. If they can, then why can’t I? I’ll continue trying, but articles like this just drive me crazy because they are not accurate.

  7. JonJOn

    Yes I would agree TECH unemployment is at a all time low for H1Bs… rarely do I see another American on the job anywhere I go. The offshoring, outsourcing, and laying off of Americans has made it a great year for H1Bs

  8. YeeDeeEt

    Some tech jobs are real easy. They hire you way before the project kicks off. You go to boring meetings. They keep postponing things. By the time they really get things going, you found yourself a new job. Not bad getting paid for a year, maybe two or three for doing zilch.