Tech & Work

Report: Tech sector growing, but IT is hemorrhaging jobs

CompTIA's September jobs report reveals some grim statistics for IT pros: 142,000 jobs were lost last month. Tech sector growth slowed as well, but positions were still created rather than lost.

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Image: iStock/Devonyu

It's not the best time to be an IT professional. Budgets are getting tight, cloud computing is making jobs more difficult, and now CompTIA reports that September was bleeding IT jobs at an alarming rate.

The CompTIA IT Employment Tracker for October reveals some interesting ups and downs. Before we dive in let's talk specifics: The report uses IT sector employment and IT occupation employment as two distinct terms.

IT occupation employment is clear: CompTIA uses this term to refer to anyone doing actual IT work. Programmers, CXOs, help desk techs, and network engineers are all in IT occupation employment.

SEE: Research: 71% already automating IT work, or plan to (Tech Pro Research)

The IT sector, on the other hand, is everyone involved in the tech world. Only 44 percent of IT sector jobs are IT occupations: The rest are marketing, finance, HR, and other positions.

The IT sector is growing according to CompTIA. IT occupations, on the other hand, are not.

Where the losses are

IT occupations across all industries faced a serious drop in September, with 142,000 jobs disappearing. That wipes away half of the job gains from August, when 205,000 IT occupation jobs were added.

The one upside to the news is the year-to-date numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is where CompTIA pulled data for the report. Job losses have been numerous but there's still been an overall gain of 17,000 positions since January.

CompTIA's report isn't specific about the particular jobs that were lost in September, though it does indicate that most were in the telecommunications and product manufacturing sectors.

What's being created?

IT sector jobs are on the rise, especially for IT/software services and system design firms: they actually added 5,400 jobs in September. Info services (such as search engines) and data-related jobs also grew.

SEE: Study of IT job postings on Indeed reveals trends important for all tech professionals (TechRepublic)

It's encouraging to see some growth, but there's one important number that CompTIA didn't include there: the kinds of jobs that are actually being created. Since the positions they're talking about are in the IT sector they could be anything: HR positions, finance, marketing—there's nothing to suggest the growth is in IT professions.

There was an increase in IT occupation postings in September, though: 22,600 were added, most of which were for programmers, project managers, and analysts.

Looking for an IT job?

Those unlucky enough to be part of the 142,000 jobs lost in September may find little comfort in the 22,600 new postings: there may simply not be enough of them. Those seeking a position in services and software may be in luck, though: 80 percent of job growth this year has been in those areas.

IT job growth may have slowed last month, but the overall increase still shows an industry that's growing. Whether it's growing for tech pros or others in the industry isn't clear—hopefully no one gets left behind.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Job growth in the IT sector slowed in September, but is still increasing.
  2. IT profession jobs suffered serious losses, with 142,000 positions being lost.
  3. The report paints a picture of slowing growth and is unclear on whether the growth in the tech industry is mostly IT profession jobs or support personnel.

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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