Tech hiring has stagnated, but not for lack of jobs

U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, but job growth in the IT sector was essentially unchanged from June.

IT employment was up just 0.32%, or a net gain of just 17.400 jobs in the last year, according to Alexandria, Virginia-based trade group TechServe Alliance.

It is not for lack of IT job openings. CBRE reports of the 330,000 jobs posted as available just in the D.C. area in July, 23% were technology-related positions.

“It is entirely a supply-driven phenomenon. There are just not enough IT professionals around to meet the needs of businesses, ” said Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance.

For companies trying to fill their IT openings, some of the struggle is out of their control. TechServe Alliance said schools cannot mint new IT talent nearly fast enough to keep up with demand.

Some of it is in the hiring company’s control.

Specifically, making their offers and packages of benefits the best they can possibly be are ways to be competitive.

Job candidates for technology-related jobs almost universally have the same first question.

“Is it remote? Is it hybrid? And if the answer is ‘no,’ they don’t wish to hear anything further,” Roberts said.

He cites members who recall many job candidates boasting as many as six or seven other competing job offers. That can be validated by the unemployment rate in the technology sector, which is just 2.2%.

Companies also are competing with sort of talent suppliers, IT consulting firms and IT staffing firms. Those gigs often provide for project-based work, which means the variety of being able to move from one project to another.

“These are folks who work that way because they choose to work that way. It is not because they couldn’t get a so-called traditional job. It is their preferred way of working,” said Roberts.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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