The economic impact of COVID-19 hasn’t been uniform. Some cities and industries (such as tech) have proven far more resilient than others to the pandemic’s economic impact. This is especially true in the tech industry, where many companies and professions have continued to hire despite widespread concerns over slackening demand and unemployment.
In order to measure the pandemic’s impact on the technology industry, we’ve utilized Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. In May, tech job postings nationwide declined 20 percent month-over-month, and 31 percent year-over-year. Yes, that’s a pretty stark number, but once you begin to examine individual tech hubs and professions, you begin to see a story of impressive toughness.
Put simply: Many of these cities and tech jobs, although still down somewhat when it comes to job postings, are nonetheless beating nationwide trends, something we also noted in April. Let’s take a look:
Many Cities Remain Strong
In May, the tech industries in the following cities performed better than the nationwide year-over-year average when it came to the change in job postings. In fact, Arlington and Austin saw a year-over-year gain in job postings, which reflects both cities’ positions as up-and-coming tech hubs (and home to a healthy mix of both well-established companies and startups).
Arlington, in addition to being the future home of Amazon's "HQ2" headquarters, also hosts a variety of federal contractors, major corporate offices, and startups (the mountain of federal government contracts is also helping many local firms through this current period). Austin, a longtime hub for startups and major companies such as Dell, continues to enjoy an influx of new business, including Apple's Mac Pro factory.
North Carolina (as represented by Charlotte and Raleigh) also displayed a considerable amount of durability in the face of COVID-19; those cities (and the state as a whole) have been recognized as growing tech hubs well before the pandemic, and it seems their fundamentals remain strong.
Meanwhile, other cities managed to stay roughly aligned with the nationwide year-over-year average for job postings. Like many of the cities that did better than the average, these expanding tech hubs (such as Denver and Houston) have a mix of small and large firms, along with varied industries, that will prove crucial during the inevitable recovery from COVID-19.
The following cities, meanwhile, performed worse than the nationwide average on a year-over-year basis. Some important things to note here: Many of these cities (such as New York and Chicago) were hit particularly hard by COVID-19, forcing a hard, widespread shutdown of economic activity. San Francisco and San Jose also went into a statewide, government-driven lockdown much earlier than cities in other states, grinding their economies to a halt for a longer duration. In light of that, the steep drop in job postings seems logical.
Let's also step back and look at how cities ranked overall for tech job postings in May. Despite the stark percentage drops seen above, major tech hubs such as New York and San Francisco continue to post thousands of tech jobs every month. The economy might be trying to rediscover its footing, but local companies across the country still have an intense need for everyone from database administrators to cybersecurity experts:
Many Occupations Still Vital
Several tech occupations have also performed better than the U.S. average with regard to year-over-year changes in job postings. As you can see from the following chart, many of these solid performers include the engineers, administrators, and developers who are essential to keeping any company’s tech stack operational. With many firms rapidly updating their web portals for expanded e-commerce options, front-end developers are also essential.
The following tech occupations saw year-over-year job-posting changes in line with nationwide averages. As with the occupations that performed better-than-average, many of these jobs are vital to company strategy and day-to-day performance, including systems engineers, cybersecurity engineers, and application support engineers. And even though the percentages have dipped, companies are still hiring thousands of these technologists nationwide; you simply can’t continue to operate without them.
A few occupations have seen a notably stark year-over-year dip in job postings, including graphic designer and business intelligence analyst:
Late May Data: Cause for Optimism?
While it’s impossible for anyone to say when the current economy might hit a “bottom” and stabilize, there are some encouraging signs when comparing the second half of May (i.e., May 16-31) to the first (May 1-15). Across the country, cities large and small saw an increase in job postings between the two periods. When you consider how many tech hubs saw job postings sharply drop in April, this May data is especially encouraging:
It’s a similar story with occupations, many of which saw a notable increase during the second half of May. Again, this is a small dataset, and nobody can predict what might happen in the future, but these percentages are heartening nonetheless:
Companies Hiring Technologists in May
Which companies posted the most open tech jobs in May? Amazon placed first, which might come as little surprise. Since the pandemic began, and stay-at-home orders drove millions of people to order pretty much everything they needed online, Amazon has rushed to keep up with demand. For Amazon and AWS software engineers, spikes in demand for everything from cleaning-product deliveries to cloud compute must have presented some challenging moments.
Defense firms, consultancies, and insurance are all well-represented on the following list, which is listed in descending order of job postings. Defense companies have pretty much continuous need for technologists to help power their various divisions; consultancies need tech talent to help their clients through these tough and unexpected times; and insurance companies are likewise trying to deal with rapidly changing situations.
What can we conclude from this May data? As we stated from the beginning, COVID-19 continues to have a sizable impact on companies’ strategies and employment plans. But in many cities, and within quite a few occupations, we’re also seeing some cause for real optimism in the numbers.
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus.