- Employers across sectors added 28,000 technology workers in May as stay-at-home orders began to ease in parts of the country, according to a review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from IT trade organization CompTIA.
- The increase in tech positions indicates a sign of recovery for national tech employment, which had previously shed 19,000 positions in March, according to CompTIA. Despite the uptick in tech employment across industries, the tech sector still saw a net decline of 33,800 jobs in May, a smaller dip than the 112,000 positions the sector lost in April.
- The unemployment rates for tech occupations showed signs of improvement in May, dropping to 3.7% from 4.3% in April.
At 13.3%, national unemployment also recovered from 14.7% in April. But experts estimate the unemployment reached 16.3% in May, higher than the officially reported rate because of an ongoing "misclassification error" with BLS. The agency and the U.S. Census Bureau are working to "address the issue."
Viewed by industry insiders as comparatively resilient in the overall economy, the tech industry still suffered the impact of an economic contraction triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Company spending priorities turned on a dime, deferring or canceling large tech investments while shifting focus on technologies that could enable distributed work for home-bound employees.
"Relative to most other industries, the news was still very good for technology-related businesses," said Jay Denton, SVP of business intelligence and chief innovation officer at ThinkWhy, in an email to CIO Dive.
The comparative resiliency of tech amid the pandemic speaks to its ability to flip on the remote work switch.
Jobs in the tech industry are often "less dependent on being face-to-face," and can deliver "significant value" when working remotely, Denton said.
While 75% of occupations nationally require general public interaction, just 38% of computer and mathematical occupations have the same requirement, according to BLS data cited by Denton.
Now that parts of the country and the world are beginning to ease their stay-at-home restrictions, the tech industry is hoping to make a comeback.
Small- and medium-sized firms in tech services and custom software are expected to resume hiring once the economy recovers, said Tim Herbert, EVP for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, in a press release.
"The unexpected jobs report should bring a sense of optimism for an economy on the rebound," Herbert said.
Recovery is unlikely to meet the projections laid out at the beginning of the year. In January, Gartner predicted global IT spend would grow 3.4% in 2020, but the impact of the pandemic led the firm to revise that projection. It now expects tech spending to drop 8%.
Tech jobs are expected to recover faster than the overall economy, with tech employment expected to bounce back to previous levels by the end of 2021, Denton said.
"The sector has held up very well so far," Denton said. "But do not be surprised to see some attrition in tech jobs in the months ahead as companies continue to balance their budgets in the wake caused by the pandemic."