The U.S. economy lost 62,000 jobs in June for the sixth straight month of employment losses with an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, but underneath the technology sector is holding up well, according to Labor Department statistics.
What a difference a downturn makes.
Last economic downturn was the dot-com bubble and the tech industry was smack in the middle of the trainwreck. This time it's the financial industry that's in the middle of the economic unraveling--a point that was apparent after chatting with an IT worker at a once-leading Wall Street firm while I was on vacation. He was going through the same things--watching the company's stock crater, frequent layoffs and wondering what's next--that folks in the tech sector more than a decade have gone through. The good news: This guy's firm is still building out data centers, replacing its servers and virtualizing so this guy is safe unless his company pulls a Bear Stearns. Even so, it's no fun watching your stock fall 10 percent a day and hoping your company's balance sheet isn't a time bomb.
With that backdrop, I went through today's employment report and checked in on the tech sector. I wasn't expecting much, but did find that the industry was holding its own--and that counts as a victory when the unemployment rate in construction was 8.2 percent in June compared to 5.9 percent a year ago and leisure and hospitality checks in with a 8.9 percent unemployment rate compared to 7.2 percent a year ago. The unemployment rate in the services sector, which includes technology and a grab bag of other industries, was 6.5 percent in June compared to 5.9 percent a year ago.
Bottom line: The tech sector and its related functions aren't growing jobs, but aren't hemorrhaging them either. And in some spots there's even growth--management and technology consultants as well as information systems architects are actually adding jobs compared to a year ago. Here's a look at the seasonally adjusted data from the Labor Department for June (see PDF of all data sets) for the areas we often cover (click for larger version):
Now these categories are the Labor Department's not mine. I'd prefer to know how software developers jobs hold up relative to data center workers and what skills are hot. But these categories are the official breakdown and while they aren't perfect I'll count them as a small win for the technology industry.