Long Hours and A Low Unemployment Rate Sum Up the IT Industry in 2015

By Chelsea Babin

With 2015 coming to an end, it’s a great time to look back at the state of the IT Industry this year. Were there dominant trends that effected hiring in 2015? Were there common gripes among technical professionals that may result in an increased IT turnover rate next year? It’s time to find some answers to these questions.

While the U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 5.0% in October, which surprised many and was significantly lower than anticipated, the IT unemployment rate stayed relatively stagnant. Why? Because it’s already at a record breaking low at just 2.8%. This incredibly low unemployment rate surprised almost no one as this has been the trend in the IT industry for all of 2015.

Although the U.S. unemployment rate has seen a significant dip this year, the IT unemployment rate hasn’t dropped much because there’s very little room for it to drop. For reference, the IT unemployment rate in October of 2014 was just 3.0%. With an unemployment rate this low, many IT employers have been feeling the pains of a technical talent shortage throughout 2015 and it’s clear that this trend won’t go away any time soon.

On the IT employee side, many technical professionals are reporting that they’re working longer hours in 2015 than they ever have. According to a new survey from Spiceworks, full-time technical professionals are putting in an average of 52 hours per week. More than half of the respondents worked more than a 40-hour work week and a whopping 18% said they worked more than 60 hours each week. These longer hours could be a result of the increased demand for technical professionals without the increased supply, forcing existing IT professionals to work longer hours because they’re doing more work than one person can reasonably take on in a 40-hour work week.

Is this trend of longer hours sustainable? Probably not. With their pick of the litter when it comes to IT job opportunities, existing technical professionals who are regularly working overtime may quickly burn out and seek employment at a more work/life balanced company. This is terrifying news for IT employers whose technical professionals regularly work more than 40 hours a week but it’s a great opportunity for companies who have been struggling to find the right technical talent for their team. If these companies increase their work/life balance incentives and find a way to ensure that their IT employees won’t have to regularly work more than 40 hours a week, they’ll attract more technical talent in 2016 than any other company.

2015 was an interesting year for the IT industry. While it continued to boom, so did the talent shortage. And, thanks to the talent shortage, many technical professionals are regularly working long hours and missing out on the work/life balance they crave. This combination could create the perfect opportunity in 2016 for IT employers who offer a great work/life balance to snag some great technical talent from companies that overwork, underpay, and underappreciate their IT employees.