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Tech unemployment hits crazy low level

May 30, 2018

Hearing that the unemployment rate in the tech sector had recently fallen to a crazy low 1.9 percent, one staffing professional commented, “That’s essentially negative unemployment.”

It’s a negative with a lot of positive for IT pros. A glut of open positions combined with a dearth of talent usually adds up to rising salaries and ever-sweeter benefits.

And that’s absolutely the case for data scientists, which Bloomberg.com has dubbed “America’s Hottest Job.” Their article in late May described positions paying $160,000 a year for full-time positions and $300,000 for top consulting gigs.

According to Bloomberg, job postings for data scientists rose 75 percent from January 2015 to January 2018 at Indeed.com, while job searches for data scientist roles rose 65 percent. That’s a lot of demand.

Speaking of demand, there are approximately a million open cybersecurity jobs this year, according to industry research source Cybersecurity Ventures, which recently reported a zero percent unemployment rate in that segment of the tech sector. Zero. Percent.

Beyond data scientists and cybersecurity gurus, demand for talent is red hot throughout the tech sector. Dice.com, which alerted us to the current crazy low tech unemployment rate, noted that artificial intelligence and machine learning are also hot, with six-figure and even seven-figure salaries for those with significant experience.

So it’s a good time to be an IT pro (and a great time to be a cybersecurity, data science, AI, or machine learning pro), but it’s not so great for companies looking to grow and feeling the need for IT pros to help drive that growth.

Speaking specifically about the cybersecurity situation, recruiter Veronica Mollica told Cybersecurity Ventures, “While a zero percent unemployment rate sounds optimal, it creates a lot of challenges for organizations including retention issues, salary inflation, and sub-par candidates getting jobs they are not qualified for. Companies are going to have to invest heavily in training young cybersecurity professionals who have a combination of technical, business, and soft skills as the talent gap widens.”

In early May, TechServe Alliance noted that IT employment grew by just under a percentage point – just 0.96 percent – by adding 50,700 workers. The nonstop shortage of tech talent is stunting growth, according to Mark Roberts, the group’s CEO.

“While economic downturns result in slow or negative job growth because of lagging demand, we are seeing anemic job growth in IT because of a lack of supply,” he said. “Despite robust demand in many IT skill sets, we simply do not have enough qualified IT professionals.”

There’s usually vigorous debate about the reason for the lack of IT professionals, but in his statement released in May, Mark Roberts identified two reasons.

“This is the result of insufficient long-term investment in growing our domestic talent supply in STEM fields and highly restrictive immigration policies of this Administration. It is unfortunate we are not fulfilling the growth potential of one of our most dynamic employment sectors,” he said.

Expanding the domestic talent pool or reversing immigration policies will take time, so a crazy low unemployment rate may be a fixture of the IT sector fixture for a while.

Until things change, tech pros can take advantage of the perks driven by demand for their skills. And if you’re looking for your next gig, we have nearly 90 contract opportunities available right now.

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