As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, tech companies across the country have settled into a new rhythm. Employees are working from home, and sysadmins and system engineers are busy readjusting corporate tech stacks to better accommodate (and secure) these dispersed networks. Businesses are figuring out new ways to interact with customers.
If February marked the end of the “pre-COVID” era, and March was the initial stage of the pandemic (complete with lockdowns, radical reorganizations, and people figuring out how to work from home), then April arguably represented the beginning of a new stage. But what does that mean? And more to the point, how are tech jobs impacted?
The key word of this new stage is “remote.” Many companies are still hiring technologists, particularly roles such as cybersecurity engineer and DevOps engineer, but these new employees are never seeing the inside of a physical office; from job interview to onboarding and the actual workflow, they’re never leaving their desks at home. And having navigated the rapid transition to a remote workforce, companies are settling into radically changed workflows and routines. It’s an adjustment for everyone, to put things simply.
To better determine the contours of pandemic’s impact on the tech industry, we’ve turned to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. The story presented by April’s data is an interesting one. Year-over-year, nationwide job postings in April were basically flat (-1 percent)… but hiring for certain tech occupations, and in various U.S. cities, was up, hinting that tech hiring still boasts underlying strength despite the pandemic. Let’s jump in.
For the purposes of this study, we used Burning Glass data to analyze weekly job postings from 25 cities across the country, from major tech hubs such as New York City and San Francisco to up-and-comers such as Austin, Phoenix, and Arlington, VA. See for yourself:
When analyzing April’s year-over-year data in the context of cities, three cities stood out as doing particularly well, with lots of job-posting volume: Austin, Arlington, Pittsburgh, Plano, and Phoenix all boasted the greatest increases.
Arlington hosts an array of big government contractors, from defense to business-services firms, that need large numbers of technologists in order to keep their projects moving. Federal contracting is a key reason why the Washington, D.C. area has enjoyed a boom of sorts in tech positions over the past few years. Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, and SAIC have been among the biggest recent employers of technologists such as software developers and analysts.
Then there’s Amazon. The e-commerce giant, which hosts a significant AWS datacenter presence in Virginia, plans on building its huge HQ2 headquarters in Arlington. That complex, once completed, will no doubt host a significant portion of the company’s already-sizable workforce in the state. Amazon is hiring local software engineers (and other tech roles) at a steady clip, which might help explain why Arlington’s long-term tech hiring remains steady.
There’s a similar story in Austin, where Accenture, IBM, and Deloitte are likewise hiring, along with tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Salesforce. Software developers and analysts are sought-after, and will have much to contribute as businesses try to adjust their tech stacks in order to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.
It’s a similar story in Phoenix and Plano, where a mix of technology companies (such as CenturyLink and VMware, in the case of Phoenix; Intuit and Red Hat, in Plano) have helped drive year-over-year growth. In Pittsburgh, medical and university systems (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Carnegie Mellon University) and financial institutions (such as PNC) are powering jobs.
While COVID-19’s impact is dominating the news, in other words, it seems that actual hiring during this latest stage of the pandemic remains solid in some metropolitan areas when compared to long-term trends.
However, some cities have been clearly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. When comparing April year-over-year, New York and San Francisco were particularly hard-hit. However, both of those cities are still posting enormous numbers of technology jobs in comparison to other metro areas. In some ways, their dip is predictable; after all, these cities locked down aggressively in the early days of the pandemic, and remain comparatively hard-hit compared to some other areas of the country. That’s forcing businesses to adopt more of a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to hiring.
We used Burning Glass data to analyze weekly job-posting data from 15 prominent technologist positions. Check out the chart:
In terms of long-term hiring, the five professions with the best year-over-year performance were Java developer/engineer, .NET developer, computer programmer, cybersecurity engineer, and DevOps engineer.
Java developers/engineers were up an eye-watering 57 percent year-over-year. It’s a high-demand role, projected to grow 30.7 percent over the next decade. But what explains that significant increase in postings compared to April 2019? IBM, Accenture, and JP Morgan are the top Java employers at the moment; with companies rushing to adjust and upgrade their critical systems—much of which involves lots of legacy Java code—there might be quite a number of Java contractors who are very busy.
.NET developers were up 43 percent year-over-year. These developers are often entrusted with updating and maintaining important systems and software, so it’s no surprise that companies need them no matter what the external circumstances. Nationwide over the past month, top employers of .NET developers have included Deloitte, Anthem Blue Cross, Wells Fargo, and Accenture, suggesting that big consulting firms, banks, and healthcare companies are all focusing on their infrastructure.
DevOps engineers saw a 27 percent increase year-over-year. As companies figure out how COVID-19 will impact their operations, they need these engineers to streamline the software-development lifecycle and guide products that meet rigorous quality standards. Right now, it seems that consulting and business-services firms such as Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Wipro are seeking DevOps engineers, along with tech/defense giants such as Amazon, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin.
Cybersecurity engineers enjoyed a 19 percent increase year-over-year. This should come as no surprise; companies are always anxious to harden their infrastructure against cyberattacks, especially given the rise in pandemic-related phishing and other assaults. Among employers, it seems a grab-bag of defense contractors are currently the biggest hirers of cybersecurity engineers nationwide, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman.
As we progress through the current quarter, we’ll continue to monitor how occupations and tech hubs continue to adjust to the pandemic. One thing is clear: In cities across the U.S., the need for technologists continues on a long-term upswing, which is cause for optimism. The country’s biggest companies are also clearly on the hunt for talent.
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus.