Tech Unemployment Hits 2.4 Percent, Half the National Rate

Tech employment remains robust, according to the latest data from CompTIA. Postings for open tech positions topped 365,000 in May, the highest monthly total since September 2019. Thanks to those gains, the unemployment rate for technology positions stands at 2.4 percent, roughly half the national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. Moreover, cities across the country saw gains in tech job postings, from major tech hubs such as Seattle and New York City to up-and-comers such as Detroit and Milwaukee.

Although tech-sector employment has grown for the past six months, there’s also been a loss of 78,000 IT positions. “The strong employer hiring activity for technology positions coupled with a loss of jobs at the occupation level suggests a disconnect,” Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “However, it is not uncommon for factors such as hiring timing or an increase in workers seeking new employment opportunities to affect labor market data in the short-term.”

Throughout the pandemic (and during the early part of this post-pandemic period), we’ve seen companies lay off technology workers, then undergo sizable tech hiring sprees. Much of this is due to restructuring and strategy shifts, with the pandemic often accelerating companies’ digital transformations. Uber, VMware, and other tech companies that laid off workers a few quarters ago are in the midst of notable hiring binges, with a hunger for technologists who can help push new strategies forward. CompTIA’s occupation data regarding unemployment and lost positions seems to align with this broader trend.

Although the vaccination rate is rising, offices are taking a cautious approach to re-opening offices, which means that many available technology jobs remain all-remote (at least for the time being). That’s good news for technologists who want a particular job, but live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their target companies. The big question is how things will shift later this year, once more offices fully re-open; at least some of these all-remote jobs may shift to in-office or “hybrid” schedules, with technologists returning to their office desks at least a few days per week. 

Among the largest tech companies, it’s important to keep in mind that an “office-first” culture seems poised to re-assert itself. Amazon proclaimed that it will embrace an “office-centric” culture post-pandemic, while Facebook has said that any remote employee who moves to a city with a cheaper cost of living than Silicon Valley will need to take a pay cut. Apple just announced a hybrid schedule for nearly all workers, as well. Smaller companies may approach remote work differently, though; if you want to remain working from home five days a week, an organization with a smaller headcount (and a need for your unique skills) could be the way to go.