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US tech industry sees 4.5% decline in June job market

While remote openings have risen 10.3%, the technology sector marked the steepest monthly drop among industries covered in Glassdoor’s latest report.

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Glassdoor just released its latest job market report, chronicling the weekly state of US jobs and recruitment. Despite bouncing back at the beginning of June, US job openings dropped to 4.6 million as of July 6, a 5.5% decline since June 22. And, even though the job market appeared poised for a strong recovery, openings and recruitment bottomed out at the end of June. All 50 states had a decrease in job openings over the last two weeks.

The report concluded that the economic recovery is grinding down, due to the surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the US, but hoped it marks a stall, not a halt, since businesses are reliant on the state of the economy.

“The tech industry had better weathered the earlier months of the COVID-19 crisis, but is now experiencing a more substantial slowdown,” said Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor senior economist. Tech jobs declined 15% in job openings over the last two weeks, from June 22 to July 6, a 4.5% drop from June 8 to July 6 (month over month).

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Remote jobs, however, grew 5% over the same two-week period, resilient and undeterred by the health crisis and accompanying economic slowdown, and marked a 23% increase from the year-earlier period. 

COVID-19’s ties to the economy

Economic progress “will be overwhelmingly determined by progress against the [COVID-19] virus,” the report said, attributing the shift to both a fragile job market and the early June recovery losing steam. Recovery, it said in the report, “stumbled, leaving job openings down an anemic 25%, compared to pre-crisis levels. Historically, there has been a dip due to Independence Day celebrations, but this year’s is larger than in previous years and Zhao called it “surprising and alarming.”

“Slumping job openings are a reminder that the virus is firmly in the driver’s seat of the labor market,” the report said. Zhao added, “A worsening public health crisis could easily derail an economic recovery that’s already struggling to find its footing.”

Even though remote job opportunities rose 10.3%, the tech industry fell to the deepest lows (-4.5%) of the industries covered in the report. Public services jobs were also down 4%. However, buoyed by the strength of the initial recovery, consumer services surged 10.9% and retail 5.5%.

The balance of up and down swings

Despite alarming reports of a rise in COVID-19 cases, and among all states, Arizona (-2.5%), Florida (-3.1%) and Texas (-3.2%) showed the smallest declines in job openings. But Glassdoor’s report pointed out that as the crisis escalates in those areas, the small declines are probably not likely to be sustainable.

The report found that 35% of employers reduced job postings since June 22, and the percent of employers increasing job openings dropped to 22% from 31% and it credits employers’ “hesitation to increase hiring in the face of economic uncertainty, rather than a surge in hiring freezes or bankruptcies.”

However, Zhao said, “there are still almost 288,000 tech jobs available and if you’re looking for a new role, it’s still worthwhile to search for and apply to tech jobs.”

If the pandemic spirals out of control, the report warned, the country could “slip into a deeper recession.” But if the public health crisis improves, “then recovery could continue cautiously,” however, the recent “upswell in COVID-19 cases is a humbling reminder that the recovery remains fragile.”

Zhao added, “The risk of a rollercoaster recovery, where rolling waves buffet the economy up and down, should not be underestimated.”

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