Thanks to the global pandemic, unemployment levels are skyrocketing. Some predict US job losses will hit levels not seen since the great depression. However, there is a bright spot for technology workers. Many have managed to avoid furloughs and layoffs, at least initially. Tech positions are well suited to remote workers. As long as the underlying businesses remain sound, many tech workers should be able to weather the storm indefinitely.
Hard data about unemployment by sector will remain nebulous until May at the earliest. However, based on preliminary findings, information technology seems to be relatively unscathed thus far. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the information sector was only at 1.8% unemployment for March, improving 2.2% over the previous year. In contrast, the leisure and hospitality sector was already showing a 2.3% decrease in employment over the same period.
Sources like The Economist are predicting Big Tech firms will thrive during this pandemic. As other types of workers are furloughed and confined to home, use of streaming media and other tech platforms has risen to unprecedented levels. Someone has to maintain and secure those platforms as well as the underlying networks. The same is true for other essential services such as government, healthcare, and financial sectors, though there are some caveats for each. If the first few weeks of social distancing and self-quarantine are any indication, it’s likely the outlook for IT will remain strong.
For tech workers that are furloughed or laid off, they may find a bit of temporary relief through head hunters and staffing agencies scrambling to help fill temporary gaps caused by the surge in digital reliance. Many of these jobs are unlikely to replace high end salaries. They may also require tech workers to become more hands-on than in previous roles. But they may provide a significantly increased and more reliable source of income than the overburdened unemployment system.
Although many of these jobs are unlikely to become permanent, they may still prove vital in helping the global economy survive this unprecedented time. And they beat the alternative which is sitting at home binge watching Netflix, waiting to see if unemployment checks will ever get delivered.