In May, the United States hit a 14.7 percent unemployment rate and more than 20 million jobs lost since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the highest level of job loss to hit the U.S. since the Great Depression. While things have improved since then, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent for September 2020, the economy remains in an uncertain position.
While many industries have been hit hard by the COVID crisis, from airlines to restaurants to live music venues, the pandemic and its economic reverberations have touched every business in some way. A litmus test is the tech sector. What was once a booming part of the American economy is now struggling with the same challenges as every other industry.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the tech jobs that have been hit hardest by COVID-19.
Tech Job Loss During COVID-19
A study conducted this summer by the job board Indeed indicated that tech-related job postings were down 36 percent year-over-year. Far from being more isolated from the pandemic than other industries, tech jobs are faring worse than other types of jobs across half of all “tech hub” cities and 90 percent of non-tech hubs.
Indeed highlights that tech companies are contending with higher hiring and firing costs that many other employers. Higher salaries, more complex jobs, lengthier onboarding processes, more in-depth employee vetting processes, and more investment in long-term employee growth and development are all factors that make hiring and firing pricier propositions for tech companies than they are for other businesses, such as restaurants.
Hardest-Hit Tech Positions
Indeed tracked its data by looking at 564 different job titles in the tech industry and recording year-over-year job posting trends for each. Based on that data, some of the hardest-hit tech jobs include positions in data science (down 51 percent in non-tech hub metro areas), security and quality assurance (down 45 percent), and software development and engineering (down 41 percent and 36 percent, respectively).
One of the most notable job loss categories for tech is information technology. Indeed found that IT management job postings had declined 50 percent since 2019 in non-tech hub areas. IT operations and help desk jobs saw a smaller decline but still dropped 35 percent.
A study by UK job board CV-Library found that the trends are similar overseas: not only have IT job board postings decreased from where they were pre-pandemic, but nearly 65 percent of IT workers in the UK are worried about losing their jobs.
The loss of IT jobs correlates with the widespread closure of workplaces that occurred early on in the pandemic. In the office, IT workers often provide network maintenance, help workers set up or troubleshoot the technology at their workstations, and perform other functions that may not be as crucial for companies operating in work-from-home mode.
Tech Layoffs in Customer Service and Sales
In May, TechCrunch shared statistics from the data tracker Layoffs.fyi indicating that more than 65 percent of layoffs at tech startups fell into one of three categories: sales (29.9 percent), customer success (21.7 percent), and engineering (13.7 percent). Together, sales and customer success — essentially sales guidance and customer support — made up 50 percent of tech startup job losses. Startups may face a harder time during the pandemic because they lack the deep pockets of older, more established tech firms.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that most of this data comes from studies and surveys conducted in the spring or summer. While new COVID-19 cases haven’t slowed down, the economy has continued its recovery through the fall.
The job losses and hiring pauses that the tech sector has been contending with since March may be temporary impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout. The big question is how many tech professionals will be left without jobs in the interim — and how many once-promising tech companies will be out of business before the tide turns?
Look out for a follow-up article on how tech professionals can stay competitive and set themselves apart within this challenging employment landscape.
Photo credit: pathdoc / Shutterstock
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.
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