(Photo by Cory Popp)
In the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia’s weekly report on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the local businesses, the org found that while some industries are taking a direct hit, the city’s tech sector is surviving better than others.
“With the sudden shift to remote or teleworking, this cross-cutting sector has become essential to maintaining the local economy,” the Leading Indicators report said. “It may also provide new equitable growth opportunities as the pandemic ends.”
The report found that Philadelphia’s tech sector is “moderately sized” compared to other cities, making up about 4.4% (or 115,000 jobs) of the region’s workforce. Other large cities like New York City and Chicago fall behind with stats closer to 4%, while tech enclaves make up about 8% of the workforce of cities like Seattle and Washington, D.C., the report said.
While the tech workforce here isn’t as large as some other cities, it’s growing in Philadelphia, the report found. The region has added 15,000 tech jobs between 2012 and 2019 with an average annual growth rate of 1.9%. And these jobs are faring better during the pandemic and subsequent recession because of their ability to be done remotely, and the increased need for technological solutions for other industries to continue to work.
The tech sector isn’t totally immune from the recession: Unemployment counts are still being determined, but various employment search websites have reported slight declines in tech job postings since the beginning of April 2020.
“While these declines in job postings may reflect a slowdown or even a freeze in hiring, we do not yet see evidence of the mass furloughs or layoffs that are occurring in other industries,” the report said.
Another trend, the report noted, was those in tech supporting other industries by providing ways for retailers, restaurants or other face-to-face services to pivot to digital. Telecommunication tools like Zoom and general internet use is up, Comcast found last month. And it’s signaling to industries that have held out from adopting new technology that it’s time to do so.
Furthermore, the strength of the tech sector during this pandemic and the ability to jump into the field without a four-year degree may present an opportunity for those who have lost their jobs during this time, the Economy League found. Businesses and orgs will be looking to expand their tech teams and protocols while training staff and clients on the use of new technologies while also mitigating the concern for cybersecurity.
“We need to recognize the post-pandemic opportunities tech will offer for the region’s labor force; namely, a new source of sustainable employment and economic investment,” the report concluded. “It may be the foundational spark that helps ignite the reconstruction of the local economy.”
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