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US IT job growth slows, but 2021 still on track for record hiring

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The job growth in the US IT industry slowed in September, adding 16,700 positions, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reported in the latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. That’s down from 22,000 positions added in the revised August figures.

Overall growth in IT positions comes even as the highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19 continued to hinder overall job growth, mainly due to slowdowns in the restaurant, entertainment, and service sectors.

That August surge followed job growth of about 18,500 in June and 10,100 in July (both are revised figures), reflecting continuing business recovery from the pandemic in the US. In fact, IT job growth has occurred every month this year, though it was uneven through May, averaging 13,000 new jobs each month so far in 2021.

The IT job situation in the US continues to look very much like the pre-pandemic state: more positions than candidates. In fact, businesses would have filled more IT positions in September had they found enough qualified candidates for them, Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis said in a statement. Finding web developers and cybersecurity and compliance pros remains the toughest task for CIOs, he said — and is causing HR to focus more on IT staff retention.

That talent shortage has put even greater pressure on businesses to increase salaries, Janulaitis said — and US IT salaries had already been trending up in 2021.

Janco expects 2021 to have greater IT job growth — 145,000 to 152,000 new positions — than in any year since 2015, when 112,500 new positions were created. In 2018, 104,600 new IT positions were added; in 2019, the increase was 90,200; and in 2020, the industry lost 33,200 positions.

There are now 3.72 million IT pro jobs in the US, Janco estimates.

The monthly tech jobs report released by the CompTIA industry association also showed slower growth in September hiring. CompTIA calculated that there were 18,700 new US tech-sector jobs last month, down from August’s 26,800, but still a jump over both July’s gain of 10,700 and June’s gain of 10,500 jobs. The US tech sector’s job numbers remain above their March 2020 peak of 4.76 million positions, reaching 4.81 million in September 2021, according to CompTIA data.

CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, with roughly 44% being technical and 56% being nontechnical, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.

CompTIA calculated the estimated unemployment rate for the tech sector at 2.2% in September, up from 1.5% in August and July, and the same as in June. The current tech unemployment rate is within range of its 2018-19 lows, where it ranged from 1.2% to 2.4%. The national unemployment rate in September was 4.8%, according to the BLS.

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