BLOG: The State of the IT & Engineering Staffing Industry and 2021 Forecasts

Despite the arrival of approved vaccines, the pandemic continues to rage with an ongoing impact on the economy, labor markets, and businesses of all types including IT & engineering staffing firms. TechServe Alliance addressed the impact of Covid-19 on the IT & engineering staffing industry during their most recent quarterly State of the Industry webinar, presented by Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance alongside Jim Janesky, a senior advisor with Peapack Private Investment Bank and a veteran industry analyst and observer with unparalleled industry expertise.

Among the key talking points of the webinar was how IT employment, and engineering employment to a lesser extent, have been far more resilient to the effects of the pandemic than most other sectors. This is clearly evident when looking at overall unemployment percentages for Q4. Unemployment for the overall workforce stood at 6.7% whereas, for IT, it was only 2.9%. While engineering didn’t fare as well as IT, unemployment still reflected resilience at 4.5%. By contrast, total non-farm unemployment was 13.42% in April 2020 and stood at 6.3% in January 2021.

The remarkable resilience of IT employment is also reflected by TechServe Alliance’s IT Employment Index. According to the index, IT employment hit its low ebb in July of 2020 when it was down 4.26% compared to being down only 1.32% in January 2021—recovering three quarters of the jobs lost. At the current rate of growth we will be back to pre-pandemic levels within a few months.

Following multiple COVID-19 relief packages in 2020, the Biden administration has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package which includes direct relief to individuals as well as support for vaccine deployment, schools, restaurants and other hard hit groups. The bill hasn’t yet garnered Republican support and is anticipated to move through Congress in a few weeks.

Under the Biden administration, several immigration reform proposals are also underway. For instance, the March 2017 Computer Programmer Memo which questioned whether computer programmers and similar individuals qualified as specialty occupations eligible for the H-1B visa was rescinded. While only one step, the new Administration is working on undoing other anti-immigration actions implemented by the Trump administration.

As for what the future holds for us, the forecast for IT and engineering staffing continues to improve. For 2021, TechServe Alliance projects IT Staffing will grow by 8% and engineering staffing by 4%—outpacing GDP and Industrial Production. A positive story to be sure.

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