Federal government and most other industries scramble to hire laid-off tech workers

The news: While the tech industry continues its slowdown, the overall labor market remains strong.

  • The US job market grew in November, adding 263,000 jobs, keeping the unemployment rate flat at 3.7%, per The Washington Post.
  • Meanwhile, the tech industry’s November layoffs were 3x higher than in October, with 2022 so far seeing more tech worker layoffs than in 2020 and 2021 combined, according to Layoffs.fyi, per NerdWallet.
  • DoorDash, Roku, HP, and Elastic are the latest tech firms to announce layoffs, adding to the tally of 903 US tech companies that have trimmed their headcounts this year as of December 2. Others that have made cuts include Amazon, Twitter, Meta, Lyft, and Stripe.
  • Additionally, Apple, which has been on the firmest economic footing among Big Tech this year, announced a year-long hiring freeze in November, and Alphabet plans to cut 10,000 employees through a stricter performance review process.

Here’s how it’s playing out: Tech’s losses are most other industries’ gains as they compete with each other and the federal government to hire laid-off talent.

  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs is on a mission to be the “absolute best place” for IT in the federal government by hiring hundreds of tech workers as engineering leads, product managers, UX designers, and customer-support professionals.
  • The VA is joined by the banking, automotive, defense, aerospace, apparel, brick-and-mortar retail and agriculture industries, as well as climate startups. They’re looking to tech’s layoffs to digitally transform their businesses.

Salary might set some apart: The average tech worker employed by the US government earns $80,900—well under the US tech worker salary average of $109,400, according to Revelio Labs research, per Bloomberg.

  • The contrast is even more pronounced when compared with the biggest tech companies, which pay $138,800 on average.
  • Alphabet’s median compensation was $295,884 in 2021.
  • Those high salaries have made it difficult for the government and other sectors to attract tech talent in the past.

A golden opportunity: The shifting employment landscape means the government and an array of industries have a chance to use tech talent to modernize and enhance capabilities, services, and products.

  • Workers who felt uninspired by toiling to drive digital ad revenue or social media traffic can use the influx of job openings to put their tech skills toward a more personally meaningful purpose like public service or the environment.
  • But the window might not be open long. Although inflation has slowed to 7.7%, down from 9.1% in July, per the Post, it’s still far above the 2% goal.
  • With the Fed eyeing the hot labor market as a contributor to inflation, even relatively small interest rate increases going forward could tip the scales against tech workers and the sectors that want them during the first half of 2023.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Connectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.