Tech Unemployment Steady at 2.0 Percent
Tech-industry unemployment hit 2.0 percent in May, unchanged from April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate for the broader economy fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest since November 2007. Technology consulting added another 7,400 positions last month. Although the category added more than 34,900 positions in the first six months of the year, that represents a 17,000-job decline from the same period in 2015. Data processing, hosting, and related services gained 100 jobs in May, for a net loss of 500 jobs in 2016. Computer and electronic product manufacturing lost 800 jobs during the month; this category has experienced zero job gains this year. Manufacturing has continued to struggle in the face of soft demand for PCs and other hardware; a number of tech firms have also moved their factory operations offshore in recent years. Despite those losses, the overall tech industry remains robust. According to BLS data, the rate of voluntary quits has hovered at around 500,000 for the past several months, suggesting that tech professionals are feeling confident enough in their economic prospects to search for new employment on better terms. Meanwhile, concerns about a startup bubble persist, fueled by a decline in the amount of venture capital invested in new firms. What investment money is flowing into the industry is going to established firms such as Uber, Lyft, and others with a pathway to profitability (at some point, hopefully); according to the National Venture Capital Association, funding of early-stage companies has declined 18 percent year-over-year. While fears of a bubble might be overblown (so to speak), the uncertainty over startup funding is yet another sign of how the tech industry can undergo a seismic shift in just a few quarters. But at least for the moment, from an employment perspective, things still seem rosy.