US Loses 140,000 Jobs in December; US Tech Industry Reports 280,000 Open Jobs

By Bruce Harpham Monday, January 18, 2021

Job recovery in the United States (US) may be stalling. In December 2020, the country lost approximately 140,000 jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Furthermore, the unemployment rate remained at 6.7%. In February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5%. The US economy’s disappointing numbers are partially offset by a new $900 billion stimulus program from the federal government.

The Industries That Lost the Most Jobs in December

The headline figure of job losses and gains only tells part of the picture. Several industries are losing large numbers of jobs, according to BLS data. Food services and drinking places lost over 370,000 jobs. Overall, employment in this industry is down 3.9 million since February 2020. Additionally, there were 92,000 jobs lost in the amusement, recreation, and gambling industries; COVID-19 restrictions hard hit these industries on gatherings.

Technology and Professional Jobs Are Growing

In the technology and professional field, the job picture is quite different. Professional and business services have seen job growth of more than 161,000 roles. In the computer industry, there were 20,000 new jobs created. Despite these gains, the professional and business services sector is still short 858,000 positions compared to February 2020 levels.

280,000 Open Jobs in Technology in the US

Demand for technology workers remains high. There are more than 89,000 open job postings for software engineers on Indeed, a job postings search engine. Overall, Indeed currently reports over 284,000 open jobs in technology as of January 12, 2021, in the US. Furthermore, Indeed estimates that 144,000 of those positions have an estimated annual salary of $100,000 or greater. In comparison, the median household income in the US in 2019 was $64,324, according to US Census data.

However, technology job openings are not uniformly available around the country. Top regions for technology jobs include New York City (7,200 positions), San Francisco (6,000 positions), Washington D.C. (4,500 positions), Chicago (3,800 positions), Austin (3,300 positions), and Seattle (2,900 positions), according to Indeed.

Short Term and Long Term Impacts of the $900 Billion Government Stimulus Program

The government stimulus package will help to boost the economy in a few ways. The program includes new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), especially for smaller businesses like many startups. For individuals, the bill will offer $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits until mid-March 2021. These spending measures will support consumers to continue spending on necessities, including housing, food, and transportation.

However, the bill also includes measures to enhance economic growth in the long term. For example, the bill includes $7 billion in funding (including $300 million for rural areas) for broadband Internet access. This support may help rural areas become more competitive with major urban centers in the long run.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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