US IT jobs growth continues, with pandemic in the rearview mirror

A little over a year after the first COVID-19 lockdowns in the US, the US IT industry has recovered the jobs lost in the aftermath and added new ones. And that growth looks likely to continue, resuming the annual growth seen before the pandemic.

The latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates show 23,600 IT jobs were added in April, based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly reports. Thart’s a remarkable number given that the total for February and March combined was 9,100, a big decline from earlier BLS estimates of 15,900 for the period.

The BLS data has been highly volatile, revised downward some months and upward others. So it’s possible that the 23,600 new jobs seen in April could end up being revised down. Still, the IT industry now has more jobs than when the pandemic hit.

At its worst, more than 100,000 IT jobs were lost during the depths of the pandemic in spring 2020, though two-thirds of those came back as the year progressed. Still, 2020 ended with 33,200 fewer IT jobs in the US compared to 2019. So far in 2021, 39,500 IT jobs have been added, more than erasing the 2020 net losses.

In some markets, such as Utah, there are more job openings than qualified candidates to fill them, Janco CEO M. Victor Janulaitis said in a statement. That’s pushing up salaries.

The Janco figures jibe with a report released by the CompTIA industry association. It calculated that there were 16,600 new US tech sector jobs in April, following a gain of 9,600 in March, 7,700 in February, and 19,500 in January. CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.

Using a much broader definition of IT, including sales positions, CompTIA estimated that 100 tech jobs were lost in April across all industries, following a 50,000-job gain in March, a 178,000-job gain in in February, and a 78,000-job gain in January. That reflects an unemployment rate of 2.5%, up from 1.9% in March and 2.4% in February. The rise in the overall tech unemployment rate may reflect a loss of sales jobs in the tech sector, even as technologist jobs grew.

Nationally, for all jobs, the US unemployment rate fell slightly from 6.2% in February to 6.1% in April, according to the BLS.

CompTIA also saw the number of tech-related job listings remain steady in April — after growing by about 30,000 in March — at around 307,000. That follows a rise of 44,300 listings in February and 26,000 in January.

Software developers constituted the largest pool of listed openings at 93,500, with listings for IT support specialists coming in second at 26,000 and for system engineers and architects third at 22,900 — all at about the same levels as in March.