Despite missed projections in overall U.S. job growth, the tech sector continues to soar, adding 16,600 jobs in April, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from IT trade group CompTIA. The sector added 60,900 positions in 2021.
Employers across sectors of the economy reduced their hiring of IT workers by 234,000 positions, yet IT occupation employment has increased by 72,000 positions so far in 2021.
Unemployment levels among IT occupations reached 1.9% last month, a "very, very low-range," according to Tim Herbert, EVP of research and market intelligence at CompTIA. "There's not that many [tech] workers sitting on the sidelines right now.
The April jobs report released Friday showed slower than expected growth. While economists had forecast a growth spurt of around 1 million jobs, BLS data showed the economy only added about 266,000 new positions.
In the tech sector, increased reliance on IT systems and continued demand for talent led the industry to hit its fifth-straight month of employment growth. "When you compare it to just about every other industry sector and many other occupations, tech has held up remarkably well," said Herbert.
In April, employers needed to fill 309,000 open IT positions. Talent demand grew by 1,690 postings over the previous month, with executives scrambling to attract and retain tech talent.
"In some areas of tech the demand is really high," said Gary Dollinger, director, technology at West Monroe. "To the point that hiring is becoming an issue."
The demand is pushing companies to dip into their competitor's talent pool.
"I know a lot of people are being bombarded with recruitment right now, offering anywhere from 20% to 40% pay increases because companies are so desperate," said Dollinger.
But aside from salary improvements, companies working to provide flexibility, training and internal promotion opportunities help bolster their ability to retain workers, according to Herbert.
Winners in the tussle over talent include companies that are taking a structured approach to corporate culture.
"In some cases, it may mean having an outside firm come in and audit corporate culture," said Herbert.
The pandemic had its impact on the perception of company culture, making it more uphill for companies to nurture and promote themselves with teams readjusting to remote operations.
"When we had the COVID lockdowns last year, it became a little bit more difficult to stand on that culture because we're all no longer together," said Dollinger. "We're all behind screens, we're not having the same kind of break times together and lunchtime together so we had to start creating new ways to get people together."