Job growth for software pros shows first decline in nearly two years

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For the first time in nearly two years, the tech services and custom software category of the workforce saw negative job growth last month, as September marked a loss of 100 net jobs for those occupations.

That is among the findings of the monthly jobs report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which revealed that hiring in the U.S. technology sector slowed in September, mirroring modest job gains recorded throughout the nation’s economy.

In terms of technology hiring, not overall job growth, the tech sector added an estimated 5,300 new jobs last month, the BLS JobsReport finds. Through the first three quarters of 2019, tech sector hiring is up by nearly 100,000 jobs.

But positive September job growth in the employment categories of computer and electronic products manufacturing (plus 3,800 new hires) and other information services, including search portals (+ plus 2,200 new hires) were countered by the flat month for hiring in technology services, custom software development and computer systems design (- 100 new hires). It marked the first month since November 2017 that the tech services and software category lost jobs.

“With only a single month of underwhelming data, it’s premature to hit the panic button on a tech hiring slowdown,” said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, a tech industry association that watches the BLS numbers closely. “Despite a new wave of anxiety over the economy, the labor market and international trade, a notable uptick in employer jobs postings suggests there is still significant pent up demand for tech talent.”

Tech occupation across the entire U.S. economy took a hit last month, declining by some 261,000 jobs. There tends to be a higher degree of variance and volatility with monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics data at the occupation level, so these figures should be viewed with caution, Herbert cautions.

In September employee job postings for core technology positions increased by 52,456 compared to the previous month. Software and application developers led the way with 116,300 postings, followed by IT user support specialists (30,400 postings), systems engineers and architects (25,200 postings ), systems analysts (23,100 postings) and web developers (21,500 posrings). Each of these categories saw an increase of 3,000 or more in job postings in September compared to August.

Though every advertised job opening may not result in a new hire, the help wanted data is a solid indicator of where companies are headed with their technology investments, Herbert says.

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