Jobs for data scientists — once the ‘sexiest job in the 21st century’ — are down due to the pandemic

  • Jobs site Indeed found that postings for data scientists are down 43% from this time last year. The job was once named the “sexiest job of the 21st century” by Harvard Business Review.
  • Tech jobs as a whole are down 36% from their July 2019 level, exceeding the 21% decline in overall job postings during the pandemic.
  • Tech titans had previously said there wasn’t enough tech talent in the US, spurring college students to major in computer science. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Demand for data scientists and other top-paying tech jobs is declining rapidly.

Job postings for data scientists alone are down 43% from this time last year, jobs site Indeed found. 

It’s a steep fall for the job that was once one of the most sought-after in the US, per Glassdoor’s employee satisfaction surveys, average salaries, and job openings. Demand for top data talent in Silicon Valley and Wall Street was such that some hedge funds would give longer non-compete clauses to data scientists than money managers, sources told Business Insider’s Bradley Saacks in February.

Harvard Business Review went so far in 2012 as to call data scientist the “sexiest job of the 21st century.”

Tech jobs on the whole are declining faster than jobs are on average, per Indeed. While all job postings had fallen 21% below their 2019 level as of July, Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel found that tech jobs were down 36%, and tech job openings on Glassdoor have declined by about 25% in San Francisco.

Even more worrying is that the work-from-home era is confounding predictions that remote work would lead to more tech postings outside the traditional tech hubs; Konkel found postings have declined to a greater extent outside the major tech markets.

The decline may surprise job seekers in a once-booming industry: LinkedIn has predicted that many of the most in-demand skills for job seekers in 2020 would be STEM-related, such as analytical reasoning and artificial intelligence programming.

Yet before the pandemic, tech industry titans like Tim Cook and Elon Musk cautioned that they weren’t able to find enough talent due to a “skills gap” in Americans well versed in math and science. 

Some experts had cautioned that the tech industry’s self-proclaimed “skills gap” was not as large as tech leaders suggested — a 2019 paper from the American Economics Association found that Americans did have the education and job experience tech employers were looking for, but they hired less when the unemployment rate was high due to increased competition. 

The decline in data scientist and other tech jobs may also impact the next generation of American college graduates — The Princeton Review found that computer science is currently the most popular college major in the country.

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