Tech Unemployment Falls to 2.7 Percent

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But IT professionals aren't quitting their jobs just yet.

Unemployment for technology professionals fell significantly in the first quarter of 2014, in large part thanks to the growth in fields like technology consulting, according to a new analysis by Dice.com.

Dice’s Tech Employment Snapshot for the first quarter of 2014 shows that the unemployment rate for technology professionals fell to 2.7 percent, after hovering around 3.5 percent for most of 2013. That figure is still above the record low of 1.8 percent unemployment that occurred in the second quarter of 2007, Dice noted.

As expected, unemployment in tech fields continues to remain far below the national average for all occupations, which was 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

One of the reasons for the downward trend in tech unemployment was the growth of the technology consulting field, which grew by more than 17,200 new positions in the first quarter. Tech consulting – which has been growing in workforce size, weekly hours and hourly earnings, according to BLS – is now made up of a workforce of more than 1.7 million. Technology consultants also earned an average pay raise of 4 percent last year, higher than the average 3 percent for technology professionals overall, Dice noted.

“More jobs, more wages, more hours – it’s the hat trick for technology consultants,” said Shravan Goli, president of Dice, in the report. “More and more companies are turning to consulting companies to help them harness the new tech age: analytics and data, infrastructure flexibility and making internal and external applications easy to use.”

Other technology job fields saw very low unemployment in the first quarter, most notably Web developers (0.7 percent), network architects (0.8 percent) and computer systems analysts (0.8 percent). Other fields actually lost jobs, however: computer and electronic products lost 2,900 jobs, while data processing and hosting jobs were down 1,600 last quarter, Dice found.

With economic uncertainty not completely out of mind for tech professionals, the number of those quitting their jobs still remains low, as just 451,000 employees in the professional and business services areas voluntarily quit their jobs on average. That figure is just 20,000 more than the average in December 2007, the first month of the recession, Dice said.

Still, Dice noted that one factor contributing to low tech attrition rates may be the efforts of employers to retain their tech talent. The recent Dice Hiring Survey suggests that employers are working harder to retain tech staff and attract new employees, with 41 percent seeing an increase in counteroffers from existing employers, up from 39 percent in mid-2013.

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