Tech job postings are down 40% and nobody’s talking about it.

Let’s talk about it.

I run a job board that caters to tech jobs, primarily web professionals. We’ve been around since 2005. This year has been pretty bonkers compared to previous years.

  • Roughly 40% fewer jobs were posted to our site in January 2016 compared to the average volume of every January since 2012.
  • Job volume for April 2016 was nearly half the volume of April 2015.
  • Currently our annual posting volume is trending at 63% compared to 2015 and 59% compared to 2014.

What’s going on here? That’s the million dollar question—and not entirely a figure of speech in this case.

What we do know…

It’s not just our board. We know this because we’ve been tracking a few of our closest competitors for a couple years. Our process is pretty simple: we scan their sites (or feeds) each morning, tally the number of postings from yesterday, and add these to a spreadsheet next to our daily numbers.

Job postings on Authentic Jobs (black) compared to four close competitors (in color).

In the chart above, it should be clear that Authentic Jobs trends along with its competitors. The tide lifts—or lowers in this case—all of our boats for the most part.

What we don’t know…

The why. On one hand, we’re cautious to assume that fewer jobs posted = fewer jobs available. We recognize companies have many avenues for advertising available jobs—social media, recruiters, employee word-of-mouth, company websites, etc. Companies may choose at any time to broadcast jobs through these channels instead of a job board. So, for all intents and purposes, it’s feasible the same number of jobs are available this year compared to previous years, just not on job boards.

On the other hand, our volume trends have been very consistent the past four years. However, these trends are suddenly meaningless in 2016. It’s anyone’s guess what our volume will be each month regardless of what the historical data says.

Job postings on Authentic Jobs in 2016 (black) compared to 2015 (green) and 2014 (yellow).

Because previous years have been reliably consistent and because our competitors’ numbers are off by similar measures, we feel confident assuming fewer jobs are being posted across the industry. Whether it’s 40% fewer or another amount is anyone’s guess.

When May’s job report was far less than forecasted for the U.S., none of us at Authentic Jobs HQ were surprised. In fact, the only surprise to us was that it took until May to surface what we’ve already seen for months. June’s job report, well above forecasts, suggests the majority of job gains may be happening in areas outside of tech.

Recently I posted about this topic over on Facebook and a friend replied with the following:

“I’ve heard stories from inside tech teams at companies of all sizes — from startups to the Fortune 200 — of battening down the hatches in preparation for an economic slowdown later this year. (And this was before the #Brexit turmoil.) Conserving runway, limiting spending, cutting risky product offerings — and pausing hiring or slowing team growth. The markets have been taking a hit for awhile and there’s a sense — rightly or wrongly — that SaaS companies that have already gone public are quote-unquote ‘undervalued,’ which creates the feeling that capital/VC will soon be more difficult to raise.”

Granted, some companies are still growing like bonkers. Anomalies will always exist. But if job boards like ours are a canary in the coal mine, tech company growth overall is cooling off in 2016.

What’s your take?

I’d love to hear what you’re seeing. Respond with a comment, or send me a note on Twitter (@cameronmoll).

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Author’s note: Title for this article was changed to better reflect its content. The original title was “Tech hiring is down…”