Main image of article Tech Unemployment Hits 19-Year Low

Tech unemployment hasn’t been this low since the turn of the century, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data crunched by CompTIA.

As of May, tech’s unemployment rate sat at 1.3 percent. “There is now the very real prospect of tech worker shortages affecting industry growth,” Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “Firms seeking to expand into new areas such as the Internet of Things, robotic process automation or artificial intelligence may be inhibited by a lack of workers with these advanced skills, not to mention shortages in the complementary areas of technology infrastructure and cybersecurity.”

Tech’s unemployment rate previously hit 1.4 percent, in April 2007 and March 2018. (The BLS began measuring occupation-level employment data in January 2000.) However, not all segments within tech are adding jobs at the same rate; although custom software development and computer systems design gained 8,400 new positions in May, for example, both information services and telecommunications saw modest losses.

Meanwhile, new data from PayScale suggests that wages within the tech industry grew 2.3 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019. That’s an indicator that the low unemployment rate is forcing employers to pay more in order to secure the talent they need. 

And that’s very good news, because Dice’s data showed tech salaries stagnating between 2017 and 2018, when they only increased 0.7 percent, to an average of $93,244. As we noted in this year’s Salary Survey, some 68 percent of tech professionals are interested in changing employers in order to receive higher compensation (well ahead of those who said they’d jump jobs for better working conditions or more responsibility).

The other question is how long the tech industry can maintain its stellar unemployment rate. When it comes to employment, what goes down will inevitably go up at some point, driven by larger circumstances outside of the industry’s control. Even if your career is going spectacularly at the moment, it always pays to keep your skills up-to-date—you never know when you’ll need to apply to a new gig.