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Columbia Business Monthly

U.S. Tech Sector Sheds Record Number of Jobs in April, trade group says

May 11, 2020 09:51AM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

The U.S. information technology sector suffered historic job losses in April as the nation's unemployment rate reached a level not seen since the Great Depression, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The loss of 111,900 tech sector jobs represents the largest monthly contraction in the industry's history, according to CompTIA's analysis of employment data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The previous low point occurred during June 2001 when 62,800 positions were eliminated, the trade association said.

It said all states and metropolitan areas recorded declines in the number of IT job postings last month. The five states with the lowest percentage declines were Rhode Island, New Mexico, Hawaii, Idaho, and New Hampshire.

For metro areas, Columbia, S.C., Sacramento, Calif., Dayton, Ohio, Albuquerque, N.M., and Providence, R.I. had among the lowest percentage declines. 

By industry, professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, and information had the largest numbers of IT job postings in April, the trade association said.

"Job losses of this magnitude are undoubtedly alarming," said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA. "The job posting data and occupation data for technology professionals working across every industry sector provides a degree of reassurance, although given the highly unpredictable situation, it will continue to be wait and see." 

No major industry sector was spared from business shutdowns, furloughs and layoffs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the trade association. Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, with restaurants (-5,491,300), retailers (-2,106,900), healthcare (-1,436,300), government (-980,000), and construction (-975,000) the hardest hit, it said.

Steep decline in IT services and software jobs

Employment in the IT services, custom software development and computer systems design category took the biggest hit, eliminating an estimated 93,200 jobs last month, according to CompTIA.  

Layoffs also occurred in computer and electronic products manufacturing (- 9,600), data processing, hosting and related services (- 6,500) and telecommunications (- 3,100). The only employment category to add jobs in April was other information services (+ 500), the trade association said.

It said the second component of tech employment, IT occupations, showed an increase of 82,000 in April. The IT occupation figure should be viewed as directional because it is subject to much more volatility than the monthly employment data reported to the BLS by employers, CompTIA said.

The number of job postings nationwide for core IT professionals totaled just over 270,000 in April, a decline of nearly 90,000 from March.

The trade association said software and application developers were in the highest demand, with an estimated 89,786 job postings across the country. Computer systems engineers and architects (20,689), computer user support specialists (19,672), computer systems analysts (17,121), and web developers (15,064) rounded out the top five occupations employers were looking to hire. The number of April job postings in each of these categories was lower that the totals for March.

Tech sector employment includes all workers employed by technology companies, including both technology workers and non-technical employees. 

CompTIA said job-posting data should be viewed as an indicator of where companies are headed with their investments in personnel and technology rather than a forecast of future hiring. 

Every job posting does not result in a new hire, the trade association said. On average, for every eight jobs postings, there is one new hire, it said.

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