US IT jobs have regained what they lost in the pandemic
Nearly all the US IT jobs lost in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic have come back, with IT employment enjoying eight straight months of growth. Of course, some of the replacement jobs were in IT specialties other than the jobs lost, as there has been a steady trend of declining data center and telecommunications positions in favor of software development jobs; that was true, even before the pandemic.
At its worst, more than 100,000 IT jobs were lost during the depths of the pandemic in spring 2020, though two-thirds of those came back as the year progressed. Still, 2020 ended with 33,200 fewer IT jobs in the US compared to 2019.
So far in 2021, 30,400 IT jobs have been added, nearly erasing the 2020 net losses.
And IT jobs in 2021 are set to continue to grow, according to the latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. It expects another 70,000 IT jobs to be available this year. Janco’s numbers come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly reports.
When adjusted for seasonality, March saw 6,500 new IT jobs, February saw 9,400, and January saw 14,400. The January and February numbers were revised up significantly from BLS’s original estimate of 8,500 and 6,000, respectively.
The Janco figures jibe with a report released by the CompTIA industry association. It calculated that there were 9,700 new US tech sector jobs in March, following a gain of 7,700 in February and 19,500 in January. CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.
Using a much broader definition of IT, including sales positions, CompTIA estimated that 50,000 IT-related jobs were added in March across all industries, following a 178,000-job gain in in February and a 78,000-job gain in January. That reflects an unemployment rate of 1.9%, down from 2.4% in February 2021 and the lowest rate since August 2019.
Nationally, for all jobs, the US unemployment rate fell from 6.2% in February to 6.1% in March, according to the BLS. But the national unemployment rate is closer to 9% if those who have given up looking are included, estimates Oxford Economics; the BLS reports the level of these discouraged workers has remained steady.
CompTIA also saw the number of IT-related job listings grow by about 30,000 in March, passing 307,000. That follows a rise of 44,300 listings in February and 26,000 in January.
Software developers constituted the largest pool of listed openings at 93,000, with listings for IT support specialists coming in second at 25,800 and for system engineeris and architects third at 23,200.
As the overall US economy showed continued glimpses of recovery in February, the IT job market continued the rebound that began in the fall, though at a slower pace than in January.
Growth last month was 13,700, according to the latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. January saw 8,600 new IT jobs. When adjusted for seasonality, February saw 6,000 new IT jobs, and January saw 10,900, down dramatically from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS’) original estimate of 18,200.
Still, the overall trend for IT — whose US jobs number 3.6 million — remains on an upward trajectory.
The Janco figures jibe with a report released by the CompTIA industry association. It calculated that there were 7,700 new US tech sector jobs in February, following a gain of 19,500 in January. CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.
Using a much broader definition of IT, including sales positions, CompTIA estimated that 178,000 IT-related jobs were added in February across all industries, following a 78,000-job gain in January. That reflects an unemployment rate of 2.4%, down from 3.0% in December 2020.
Nationally, for all jobs, the US unemployment rate fell from an adjusted 6.3% in January to 6.2% in February, according to the BLS. But the national unemployment rate is closer to 9% if those who have given up looking are included, estimates Oxford Economics; the BLS reports the level of these discouraged workers has remained steady.
CompTIA also saw the number of IT-related job listings grow by about 44,300 in February, passing 277,000. That follows a rise of 26,000 listings in January. Software developers constituted the largest pool of listed openings at 88,000, with listings for systems engineers and architects coming in second at 22,700. But Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis expects that over the next several years, coders will find jobs scarcer as low-code development gains traction, even as demand for software developers overall increases.
Even as the overall US economy struggled in January — adding just 6,000 private sector jobs and 49,000 jobs overall — the seasonally adjusted IT job growth last month was 18,200, according to the latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. The past two months saw 55,000 new IT jobs, revised up from the 18,000 total reported a month earlier, based on revisions from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Still, compared to January 2020, US IT jobs have decreased by 35,800, a loss of about 1%. Last spring, more than 100,000 IT jobs were lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, representing about 3% of the IT workforce.
The Janco figures jibe with a report released by the CompTIA industry association. It calculated that there were 19,500 new US tech sector jobs in January. CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.
Using a much broader definition of IT, including sales positions, CompTIA estimated that 78,000 IT-related jobs were added in January across all industry sectors. That reflects an unemployment rate of 2.4%, down from 3.0% in December 2020. Nationally, for all jobs, the US unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7%. But the national unemployment rate is closer to 9% if those who have given up looking are included, estimates Oxford Economics.
CompTIA also saw the number of IT-related job listings grow by about 26,000 in January, passing 232,000.
Over the coming decade, Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis expects 11% growth in US IT jobs. “Most of the growth in the IT job market will be with software developers, quality assurance, and testers,” he said in a statement. “This will be driven by [work from home] as it is will be embraced by more enterprises in normal operations and internet-centric applications are developed and deployed.
“The projected growth for that sector alone will be almost 18%,” he said.
For the first time since the dot-com bust of 2000-2002, US IT salaries were flat in 2020, rising a negligible 0.08% to an average of $94,609 per year, according to the most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates. The year also ended with 55,900 fewer jobs than the US IT industry had on Jan. 1, 2020 — a drop of 1.5% for the year. (Last week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] revised its figures for 2020, resulting in a revised drop of 55,900 versus the 81,100 reported previously.)
A separate survey by the industry association CompTIA, using BLS data, showed that the broad US tech industry showed job growth of 391,000 positions (22,000 of which were at tech vendors) in December 2020 — even as the US as a whole lost 140,000 jobs. About 44% of those tech sector jobs are for positions such as IT staff, software developers, and IT project managers; the rest are support positions such as sales, marketing, and management.
Janco’s survey focuses specifically on IT jobs, mainly people in a CIO’s organization, whereas the CompTIA survey looks at the entire tech sector.
The December growth in tech and IT jobs still left the broader tech sector below December 2019’s level, with 4.68 million jobs in December 2020, down from 4.73 million a year earlier. CompTIA’s survey shows a steady increase in tech jobs since July 2020, after a steep drop that began in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Janco survey showed that IT middle managers lost the most pay ground in 2020, with an average 0.08% salary reduction at large enterprises and 0.07% reduction at mid-sized enterprises. IT staff saw 0.03% average salary increases in large enterprises and 0.04% in medium enterprises. Executives did the best, of course: their salaries were up 0.59% in large enterprises and up 0.35% in medium ones.
April and May were the worst months for US IT jobs in 2020, Janco’s data shows. In those months, 116,000 IT pros lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. Hiring partially recovered in later months, but the total of 3.58 million US IT jobs in 2020 remained below 2019’s 3.64 million (but slightly above 2018’s 3.54 million).
Janco notes that IT consulting and contract positions meant to augment IT staff were all but eliminated in 2020 and hiring growth stalled in the second wave of lockdowns that began in the fall as COVID-19 infections resurged. Those infection rates continue to grow in early 2021; Janco’s interviews with 101 US CIOs reveal that they don’t expect IT job or salary growth in 2021.
Still, IT was fortunate in 2020 compared to many other industries. The COVID-19 pandemic devastated many industries, eliminating jobs at an unprecedented scale in the travel, hospitality, entertainment, and events businesses. Retailers with physical stores faced massive job losses as well, though manufacturing has largely bounced back. The US overall had 9.4% fewer jobs as of June 30 (the latest data available) compared to 2019, the BLS reported. The tech unemployment rate has been roghly half that of the national rate throughout the pandemic, ending at 3% in December 2020 versus 6.7% for the economy as a whole, CompTIA reported.
Despite those massive losses in multiple industries, the average US salary rose 2.6% in 2020, according to the PayScale salary survey, which was last updated on Oct. 12. The latest data from the BLS, which covers the first half of 2020, showed an 8.6% average salary increase from a year earlier. Some of the salary increases reflect higher pay for grocery workers, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers whose jobs became more critical during the lockdowns and who were at greater risk of contracting the virus in their work.
Of course, people who lost their jobs aren’t included in salary surveys, so those figures reflect the pay of the still-employed.
CompTIA reports that software developers had the largest employment gains (4,700 hires) in December, triple that of the next-largest group, systems analysts (1,400 hires).
After three months of rebound, the US IT job market reversed course in November, shedding 8,300 jobs. That loss follows a 9,300-job gain in October, a 13,500 gain in September, and a 4,500 gain in August. For the year, the net loss of US IT jobs now stands at 81,100, still down from a peak high of 102,900 job losses this year as of August, according to the most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates.
In November, “the major loss of jobs for IT professions was in [small businesses] and consulting firms that service them; 7.5 million small to mid-size business are disproportionately impacted by shutdowns,” said Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis. He said many of these closures escape notice because they shut down before their debt levels require going through bankruptcy court.
Large companies have also shuttered or retrenched, he said.
Three quarters of the lost IT jobs in the US are concentrated in two segments, he said. One is data processing, hosting, and related services, the other is computer systems design and related services.
“Hiring of IT professionals has all but stopped due to the uncertainty about the recovery,” Janulaitis said. And the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic this fall, and the likelihood that vaccinations will be largely complete only in summer 2021, suggests that IT jobs will be at risk for the foreseeable future, he said, as many businesses continue to shrink and many others put off anchoring until there’s more economic certainty.
IT jobs lost at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns continue to recover slowly, with an additional 12,700 US jobs added in October — bringing the total recovered jobs since August to 27,800. Those autumn gains bring the loss of US IT jobs to 75,100 for the year, down from a high of 102,900 job losses as of August, according to the most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates.
The IT job market continues to struggle with the closure of many small- and medium-sized businesses and of many retail operations, in addition to broad cutbacks in all industries meant to preserve cash, said Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis.
In addition, the percentage of data center jobs has dropped from 10% of the US IT workforce to 9% since the pandemic began, indicating more severe cutbacks in back-end IT services as part of a shift to the cloud.
A separate report by Foote Partners, which conducts salary surveys on IT jobs and certifications, shows a mixed bag for IT pros in 2020, with some skills increasing in compensation despite (or because of) the pandemic, and others losing value. On average, though, IT compensation has held steady.
Gainers include a variety of positions involving security, Apache ZooKeeper distributed configuration, the Hbase SQL database, the Ethereum blockchain, Oracle Coherence caching, Marketo marketing automation, the Apache Flink stream-processing framework, natural language processing, master data management, and the Keras deep learning API.
Decliners include BusinessObjects and Cognos application development, Google App Engine and JSON web development, Oracle Application Server, SAP Enterprise Business Applications, SNA networking, mobile device management, Cisco’s UCCX call center platform, big data analytics, Windows NT, Suse Linux, and Tibco Enterprise Messaging Service.
Although the IT and telecommunications job market in the US is still expected to shrink by 64,000 jobs this year compared to 2019, the recovery of IT jobs lost during the early days of the pandemic continued for a second month. The most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates shows that about 12,200 IT jobs were added in September following a net gain of 6,900 in August.
At the outset of the pandemic, more than 105,000 US IT jobs were lost as companies retrenched in the face of COVID-19, more than erasing the 90,200 jobs added in all of 2019. Those losses have been partially addressed since through rehiring and new hires. As a result, over the last nine months, IT jobs were down by 85,000.
However, Janco doesn’t forecast a recovery in the IT job marked until spring 2021, as the US economy suffers new waves of infections that slow or even reverse prior gains. In October, an additional wave of IT layoffs is expected as airlines furlough tens of thousands of workers now that federal job subsidies have ended for that industry.
Companies are leery about expanding during uncertainties around government action, particularly the stalled stimulus efforts, said Janco president Victor Janulaitis. The November presidential election is another cause for companies to wait and see. “Spending for IT products and services has all but stopped as companies reevaluate the state of the economy globally as new waves of selected shutdowns occur,” he said.
By Ken Mingis, Executive Editor, Computerworld
Although the U.S. IT and telecommunications job market is still expected to shrink by 64,000 jobs in 2020 versus 2019, the worst may be over – and about a third of the IT jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to have come back by 2021. That’s according to the most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates.
For the first time in six months, August saw a net gain in the number of IT jobs: up 6,900. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised the number of IT jobs lost in July, showing 4,400 fewer jobs were lost than originally reported. Still, over the last 12 months, IT jobs fell by 81,800, nearly erasing the 90,200 jobs gained in 2019.
“IT hiring will remain soft but improving slightly. …Major many companies are resuming existing operations slowly, but are holding back on any expansion until after the [Nov. 3] election,” said Janco’s latest report.
But some sectors will continue to lose jobs, it noted, including the airline industry, which is poised to lay off tens of thousands of employees across all roles, not just IT, as federal COVID-related subsidies end on Sept. 30. Cities such as Portland, Ore. that have seen ongoing civil unrest due to protests over police killings of Black citizens will also see deferred hiring until the unrest subsides, Janco said.
IT organizations remain cautious on spending, with very few new initiatives or expansions of current efforts being funded beyond the initial rampup in work-from-home and social-distancing technology investments at the start of the crisis.
Coronavirus spikes in parts of the U.S. in July have worsened hiring conditions for IT professionals, and management consulting firm Janco Associates now doesn’t expect any rebound in hiring until late this year or early in 2021.
Janco now estimates that just 25,000 new IT jobs will be created in 2020; there are now more than 163,000 fewer tech jobs than a year ago. In July alone, another 10,900 IT positions disappeared, the company said.
“We have found that a number of companies have already shuttered their doors or are expanding layoffs that impact the IT job market,” Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis said in a statement. “This includes oil and gas drillers like Whiting Petroleum and Diamond Offshore, retailers like J Crew, manufacturers like Briggs & Stratton, and grocers like Dean and DeLuca. As a result, IT professionals working for those companies are looking for new employment opportunities.
“Until after the election…, when the public feels [it] can go back to a normal life [and] more companies open their doors, hiring for new positions in IT will be limited at best,” he said. “In addition, the continued civil unrest is slowing confidence by the public, which in turn, hinders corporate confidence.”
He noted the stalemate in Washington, D.C. over new efforts to prop up the U.S. economy, as several states deal with increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“Spending for IT products and services has all but stopped as companies reevaluate the state of the economy globally as new waves of selected shutdowns occur,” Janulaitis said. “With more companies adopting [work from home] to address ‘social distancing’ and avoid in-office contacts, fewer companies are taking an aggressive approach to any additional spending for IT products and services. It does not help that the U.S. Congress and the president are at a stalemate on pandemic relief.”
The wave of IT layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic did not end in May 2020 as expected, with June seeing 6,000 more layoffs as business uncertainties rose because of the increase in coronavirus infections in the U.S., according to new data from management consulting firm Janco Associates. The pandemic’s economic fallout had already led to about 117,000 job losses in U.S. IT positions in April and early May 2020.
The increase in COVID-19 infections across most U.S. states in June prompted the additional layoffs, and Janco’s June survey of U.S. IT organizations shows that further layoffs – though at the relatively small scale seen in June – are expected given business uncertainties. That survey also said that salary increases for IT staffers are “a thing of the past.”
The job losses were exacerbated by the extensive protests over the police killings of George Floyd and others, Janco said. That led to additional economic uncertainty, particularly in the retail industry hit by looting, leading to additional closings, deferred reopenings, and unexpected costs.
In addition, a Trump Administration decision last month to pause the use of H-1B visas, which are commonly used to fill IT positions, will not help U.S. IT pros in the near term, Janco noted. Because it applies to new hires it does little to free up existing positions.
IT organizations don’t expect to begin hiring again until late 2020 or early 2021, assuming that the infections are under control and the economic reopening interrupted in June can resume. Without a sustained reopening, companies won’t see demand for goods and services that provides the money for new and replacement hires.
Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis now expects the net number of new U.S. IT jobs in 2020 will be about 30,000, versus the 94,500 it had expected before the epidemic struck. In 2019, the U.S. IT job market grew by 90,200.
The wave of IT layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, according to new data from management consulting firm Janco Associates. The pandemic’s economic fallout resulted in about 117,000 job losses in U.S. IT positions in April and early May 2020.
But Janco’s May survey of U.S. IT organizations shows that further layoffs are largely not expected. But neither is much IT job growth. IT organizations don’t expect to begin hiring again until late 2020, assuming that the gradual economic reopening now in progress continues and demand for goods and services resumes, providing the money for new and replacement hires.
Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis expects that the net number of new U.S. IT jobs in 2020 will be about 35,000, versus the 94,500 it had expected before the epidemic struck. In 2019, the U.S. IT job market grew by 90,200.
It’s not yet at the level of “Brother, can you spare a dime?” for IT workers, as it is for many workers in retail, entertainment, and hospitality. But as it becomes apparent the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be take several years, IT pros are seeing layoffs in the U.S. and diminished prospects for future work, both as staff and as contractors.
In April 2020, IT pros saw 102,300 layoffs in the U.S., according to management consulting firm Janco Associates. And Janco has now more than halved the expected IT job growth in 2020 that it predicted just a month ago – to 40,000 versus the earlier prediction of 95,400 IT jobs.
Janco’s current projection for U.S. IT jobs this year is now 3.6 million, down from 2019’s 3.7 million U.S. IT jobs.
Companies have essentially stopped filling IT positions and halted new contract work, Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis said, based on conversations with CIOs and CFOs. That means IT pros who lose their jobs will have little prospect of employment or contract work in 2020.
“Until the public begins to feel they can go back to a normal lifestyle and companies open their doors, IT hiring will be nonexistent,” he said.
Janulaitis noted that there had been a surge in IT contract work at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to help set up work-at-home environments, from collabration tools to VPNs. “The demand for contractor help in this effort was high initially, but now is non-existent,” Janulaitis said. The tech startup sector is also in crisis.
Janulaitis does expect IT hiring to begin picking up at the end of the year. That’s in line with the current thinking for the economy as a whole; various U.S. Federal Reserve executives and economists have said they expect the current effective jobless rate of about 23% to fall back but still be about 10% in 2021. The official jobless rate stands at 14.7% – versus 3.5% in 2019 – but that count misses recent layoffs, laid-off people not looking for work during the crisis, and the self-employed.
Broadly, expectations of a V-shaped recovery have given way to expectations of a prolonged decline and then slow recovery, since there is no vaccine for COVID-19, treatments and testing are not available at meaningful levels to determine who can work safely, it’s not known whether infected people develop immunity, and the ramifications of the various efforts now under way to reopen parts of society and economy remains unknown.
The fate of IT positions is not immune from these general economic factors. “All of this has put IT professionals the same state as the rest of the labor market,”Janulaitis said.