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Tech jobs grow despite layoffs, hiring freezes and Elon Musk

Hiring and advertising for tech jobs increased last month, according to U.S. data. But so did technical consulting jobs -- a possible sign of weakening full-time hiring.

From the headlines, tech employment looks shaky, with a rising number of firms either laying off workers or pulling back on hiring. But the U.S. Department of Labor employment data, released Friday, indicates the tech industry is still hiring.

While some large companies have been cutting back, midsize companies "that have been starving for talent" are taking advantage and hiring workers who have been let go, said Victor Janulaitis, CEO at Janco Associates Inc., a labor market research firm.

Janco, which keeps tabs on tech jobs, counted 15,300 new IT jobs last month and increased its tech jobs growth estimate for 2022 to 188,000 new IT jobs.

Janulaitis said many of the layoffs are managers, not coders. "You are going to see the middle management layer go," he said.

Another labor market research analyst echoed the point, saying demand for technology workers remains.

"We're adding jobs," said David Foote, co-founder and chief analyst at labor market research firm Foote Partners LLC. He said that need for technology expertise is due to its widening importance in every aspect of a business.

"The point is that every company is a tech company," Foote said.

Warnings keep arriving

But large companies have been sending out warnings. In a blog post this week, Amazon said the firm has put a "pause on new incremental hires in our corporate workforce." The pause will remain in place for the next few months as the firm continues "to monitor what we're seeing in the economy," wrote Beth Galetti, senior vice president of people experience and technology at Amazon.

Stripe Inc., a payment processing platform, said it was cutting about 14% of its staff, reducing it to 7,000 -- the number of employees it had in February. Stripe CEO Patrick Collison said the firm was "much too optimistic about the internet economy's near-term growth in 2022 and 2023."

The point is that every company is a tech company.
David FooteCo-founder and chief analyst, Foote Partners LLC

And then there is Elon Musk's Twitter, which is reportedly cutting as many as half of its employees. Five former workers filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday, claiming Twitter violated California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires 60 days advance written notice of a mass layoff.

The lawsuit noted that employees "were locked out of their Twitter accounts, which they understood as a signal that they were being laid off."

Businesses, in general, are worried about the current economic outlook. This week, a PwC survey found that 81% of executives believe there will be a recession in the next six months. The professional services firm surveyed about 660 business professionals, including CFOs, CIOs, chief human resource officers, members of boards of directors, and others.

Notable job gains

Professional and technical services added 43,000 jobs in October -- a "notable job gain" according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Foote said about 40% of those jobs were in technical consulting services and computer system design. The hiring in this category may indicate that firms are turning to consultants instead of full-time workers for technical help, which happens in a downturn, he said.

The types of tech jobs likely to remain in high demand include those requiring skills related to business process automation, 5G, IoT, cloud, edge computing, applied AI, and cybersecurity -- among others -- Foote said.

Labor market analysts use different approaches to measure increases in U.S. data. But they do agree broadly on the pace of demand for tech workers. Industry group CompTIA, for instance, said tech companies added 20,700 workers in October.

CompTIA said tech job postings also increased in October to 317,000 -- an uptick of more than 10,000 from September.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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