Tech Unemployment Rose Slightly Last Quarter But These Technical Skills Are Still in High Demand

By Chelsea Babin

The IT industry’s unemployment rate rose slightly last quarter, the second quarter of 2016, hitting 2.1 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Comparatively, in the second quarter of 2015 it reached 2.0 percent. While this slight uptick may seem out of the ordinary, the technology industry’s unemployment rate is still far below the general unemployment rate and the rate of voluntary quits this year has skyrocketed, which may be a significant contributor to the slightly higher unemployment rate.

Employers who are looking for new tech talent won’t feel much of an ease on the burden of increasing salary, bettering benefits, and using outside help to shorten the hiring process despite the uptick. Additionally, if employers are looking for IT professionals with certain in-demand technical skills, they may feel that the pool of available talent is even shallower than before.

A handful of languages dominate the IEEE Spectrum rankings, which combines data from 10 different sources, even across wildly different methodologies. The top 15 most in demand programming languages in 2016 are as follows: C, Java, Python, C++, JavaScript, C#, PHP, Ruby, HTML, Swift, Assembly, R, Scala, Shell, and Perl. Employer demand is at a peak for many of these technical skills so finding employees with experience using one or more of these technologies could prove challenging this year.

New languages and technical focuses can take years to slowly creep up the rankings, which may explain why Swift only just cracked the top 10. If you’re looking ahead to future projects and the kind of talent you might need to get you there David Foote, chief analyst at Foote Partners LLC, predicts that the value of the following non-certified skills is rising and will continue to grow for the rest of this year and into the first quarter of 2017: prescriptive analytics, prescriptive analytics and modeling, Apache Zookeeper, DevOps, Apache Spark, Cloudera Impala, Six Sigma/Lead Six Sigma, Amazon RedShift, and Redis.

Although the slightly higher IT unemployment rate may indicate that the shallow pool of IT talent is growing slightly, anyone with these top skills will still be difficult to find quickly. In order to shorten the hiring process many IT employers are using recruiters, increasing salaries, adding benefits, implementing training and tuition reimbursement programs, and trying to revamp their company cultures and management styles to not only attract but retain top IT talent.