Tech jobs end the year strong

CompTIA's analysis finds solid growth in December with a note of caution about an uneven recovery in 2021.

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Image: CompTIA

2020 ended on a high note for the US tech sector as tech companies added more than 22,000 workers and tech occupations throughout the economy grew by 391,000 positions, according to an analysis by CompTIA.

But the IT trade association issued the caveat that while the jobs numbers should be viewed with a degree of caution, as the economic recovery is likely to be uneven through the winter and until coronavirus vaccines are more widely distributed, this is a positive start to 2021.

Another encouraging sign was a modest increase in the number of employer job postings for core information technology positions, to nearly 207,000 in December. Software and application developer openings accounted for the largest number of positions (62,900), followed by IT support specialists (18,100 positions), systems engineers/architects (16,600), systems analysts (13,700) and IT project managers (13,500), according to the CompTIA Tech Jobs Report.

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The positive tech employment news stood out in a month where the US economy lost 140,000 jobs, according to the Jan. 8 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation report, CompTIA said.

"Tech hiring continues to bring a degree of stability to a still fragile labor market in an incomplete recovery," said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, in a statement. "With projections of employer demand for tech talent remaining strong in the year ahead, we hope tech can continue to serve as a catalyst for business and career opportunity."

The tech occupation unemployment rate was 3% in December, compared to 6.7% for the overall economy. Tech unemployment started 2020 at 3% and ranged from a low of 2.4% to a high of 4.6% during the year.

Tech sector hiring led by services, software jobs

December hiring within the IT sector was paced by the addition of 20,300 jobs in the IT services and custom software development category in the employment category, an important indicator of small and midsize business activity, CompTIA said.

Other categories that saw a rise were data processing, hosting and related services (+ 2,600), computer, electronics and semiconductor manufacturing (+ 1,600) and other information services, including search portals (+ 200). Telecommunications employment declined by 2,500 jobs, CompTIA said.

During 2020, the US IT sector recorded six months of employment growth and six months of job losses, the trade association said. IT occupation employment experienced seven months of growth and five months of declines in 2020. Last month's addition of an estimated 391,000 new positions represented the largest monthly gain last year, CompTIA said.

Tech job postings up

Industries with the largest number of tech jobs postings included professional, scientific, and technical services (38,215), finance and insurance (18,054), manufacturing (14,872), and information (12,406).

Among metropolitan areas across the country, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Chicago, and San Francisco saw the largest month-over-month increase in tech job postings. At the state level, Washington, California, New York, Michigan, and Illinois experienced the strongest month-over-month gains, the CompTIA report said.

Employer hiring for emerging tech job roles and skills reached 57,509 for the month, a slight increase from November. As a percentage of overall technology job postings, emerging tech accounted for 28% in December, up 6 percentage points over the January 2020 rate of 22%.

The top five metro areas for AI job postings in December were Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. The top five states for AI job postings were California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

The top five employers for AI job postings in December were IBM, Applied Materials, Anthem Blue Cross, Amazon, and Ernst & Young. The top five industries for AI job postings were professional, scientific and technical services, manufacturing, finance and insurance, information, and retail.

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