Developers and IT pros are in demand, but how long will the hiring wave last?

After a year of layoffs and hiring freezes, companies are ramping up hiring efforts. A tight labor market is setting the stage for a candidates' market and top tech talent could reap the benefits.

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Image: GettyImages/10'000 Hours

After a year of layoffs and hiring freezes, a number of companies are ramping up hiring efforts. In July, the U.S. economy added 943,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Employment Situation Survey. On the same day, CompTIA released its latest Tech Jobs Report for August. These monthly reports parse out hiring data for a number of cities and states as well as trends for specific tech positions. Amid a tight labor market and remote work at scale, a number of tech positions are in high demand, but how long will these trends last?

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"Beyond the headline figures, the underlying data tells a growth story of diverse hiring across tech occupation categories, industry sectors, employer types and locations," said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, in a press release about the Tech Jobs Report and latest BLS figures.

"It's not one overriding factor, but a combination of factors contributing to tech employment growth."

Top states and cities for tech

A portion of the report looks at state-by-state tech sector hiring trends. Overall, California is the top state for tech sector job postings followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois, in order. 

A separate report infographic ranks states by the number of tech postings from June to July. Texas took the top spot adding 4,173 tech job postings during this time. Tech job postings increased 2,588 in California, followed by Massachusetts (1,639), Illinois (1,523) and New Jersey (1,004).

At the metro level, New York topped the list with 21,858 tech job posts as of July, representing a 2,058 increase since June, according to the report. Runner-up Dallas listed 17,453 tech job posts as of July followed by Washington, D.C, (16,391). In order, Los Angeles and Chicago round out the top metro areas for tech job posts.

Digital transformation and in-demand positions

Over the last year, companies around the country switched to remote operations on short notice due to the coronavirus pandemic and accelerated their digital transformation timelines. The switch to hybrid and remote operations has presented new logistical and security challenges for companies; especially teams remotely troubleshooting and overseeing the security of these networks.

"A surge in demand coupled with pent up turnover is making competition for talent intensify – especially for tech talent and those with other critical skillsets. Looking ahead, HR leaders anticipate this focus on hiring to be sustained through the remainder of the year and into 2022, pending any significant changes in the arc of the pandemic," said Lauren Smith, vice president in the Gartner HR practice.

Smith said the surge in tech demand is "especially acute in critical roles that are focused on helping propel organizations toward innovation or digitalization."

"As the employee and customer experience has become increasingly digital, demand for talent who can help transform the business and employee experience will be a key focus," Smith said.

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Across the technology sector, more than 2.25 million people are employed in IT and software services roles (including computer system design) as of July, and this is up 5,200 positions from June to July. For perspective, 1.08 million people were employed in computer, electronics and semiconductor manufacturing roles across the tech sector as of July, and this decreased 500 positions from June to July, according to the report.

Hiring trends and labor shortage

The report also details hiring trends for tech positions across industries, with software developers topping the list with 99,012 positions as of July, and this total increased by 3,451 from June to July. During this period, 814 IT support specialists were added, bringing the July total to 28,090. From June to July, system analysts and web developer jobs also saw increases, adding 824 and 453 positions, respectively.

Labor market and negotiations

Currently, employers are busting out all of the stops to attract and recruit top talent amid a tight labor market, with incentives ranging from flexible work arrangements to signing bonuses and more. Due to the high demand for tech talent, increased emphasis on remote work and network security, IT professionals could be in a good position for negotiations.

"In addition to demand for new talent, HR leaders in a recent Gartner survey reported that IT talent was one of the talent segments that they were most concerned about when it comes to attrition due to the increased competition and passive sourcing by other organizations," Smith said.

"IT talent, specifically, understands that they are in high demand and expect a compensation increase for a job move," Smith continued.

Citing Gartner research, Smith said the Global Labor Market Survey indicated that IT candidates' expectations regarding compensation when switching positions increased nearly 15% in the second quarter of 2021, up 7% from the fourth quarter in 2020.

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