Cybersecurity Resilient in Worst Unemployment Since Great Depression

Neither high unemployment nor deep budget cuts are impacting cybersecurity jobs overall.

Pam Baker

May 27, 2020

4 Min Read
Unemployed in Great Depression

In April, U.S. unemployment due to the pandemic broke records at federal and state levels. The Department of Labor reports 38.6 million people filed jobless claims in what is the worst unemployment since the Great Depression. And expectations are the numbers will climb even higher. Through it all, the cybersecurity industry is proving resilient, but not impervious to cutbacks.

Both attackers and defenders have been working overtime since the en masse migration to home working began. Predictions for the cybersecurity industry have been largely positive because of that activity. But not everyone agrees the industry outlook is rosy.

Paul McKay, senior analyst on security and risk at Forrester, agreed with colleague Jell Pollard’s tweet that “cybersecurity is not immune. Status quo fetishism will not save jobs. The growth days are over. Cuts are coming.”

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But a recent CyberVista report couches any potential belt-tightening as minimum risk to sustained resiliency for cybersecurity.

Simone Petrella is CEO of CyberVista, a cybersecurity workforce development company.


CyberVista’s Simone Petrella

“The job data we pulled is indicative of the job openings in cybersecurity across all industries and in aggregate,” said Petrella.

Petrella said “the numbers have stayed steady” and cited several reports as evidence of the industry’s staying power. LinkedIn’s recent April Workforce Report shows less than a 1% decrease in hiring within software and IT services. A recent report by job search firm Dice finds cybersecurity job openings increased by 20%. Glassdoor’s most recent Job Market Report says the number of open jobs in internet and technology is up almost 72% month over month.

“So it’s not that there isn’t belt tightening in the security vertical, but that’s also being offset by industries and sectors that have been able to pivot into more virtual environments, meaning now they have a greater need for technology and cybersecurity expertise than they ever have before,” said Petrella. “The economic situation is forcing budget tightening in certain organizations, whereas others are posturing for growth in digital initiatives.”

LinkedIn Data Reveals Insights

CyberVista mined LinkedIn data to find where the cybersecurity industry stands in the overall dismal downward spiral. The findings are remarkable in that the cybersecurity industry appears to be going in the other direction. Deman is climbing, and there are plenty of job opportunities. But why is the industry so resilient when seemingly no other industry is?

In early March, CyberVista found that LinkedIn listed more than 261,000 cybersecurity jobs posted in the prior 30 days alone. The question is, what is driving the demand in a stalled economy? The researchers said the answer was “increased uncertainty” in the throes of a global pandemic. And this followed what was already a talent shortage. The result is that “demand far outpaces supply to the tune of some 4 million open positions globally.”

But LinkedIn wasn’t the researchers’ only data source. They turned to open job data to get a read on cybersecurity demands to secure networks, technology and personnel activity throughout the largest work from home (WFH) employee migration ever seen.

“Openings in California (+0.6%) remain relatively unaffected, with job openings in San Francisco rising by +0.7% and San Jose only down 0.1%. Washington state went down 3.7% and New York down 2.5%. (New York City accounts for a decline of 2.7%). Those declines are relatively minor considering the disproportionate impact the pandemic and city- and state-wide shutdowns are having on these geographies and other economic sectors,” the researchers recorded in their report.

Experts say not to expect a slowdown in demand for cybersecurity professionals and services anytime soon. According to a LearnBonds report, “68% of major organizations, public and private, plan to increase their cybersecurity spending as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

While human cybersecurity talent is in high demand, AI popularity appears to be dropping like a stone. The firms that LearnBonds surveyed reported “increased cybersecurity spending meant cuts in other areas of IT budgets.”

The LearnBonds researchers said that “statistics show artificial intelligence solutions are set to witness a massive drop in spending this year, with 23% of major enterprises planning to cut their investments on these technologies.” Blockchain also is on the chopping block. Eighteen percent in the LearnBonds survey say they’ll cut blockchain as part of downsizing their IT budgets.

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About the Author(s)

Pam Baker

A prolific writer and analyst, Pam Baker’s published work appears in many leading print and online publications including Security Boulevard, PCMag, Institutional Investor magazine, CIO, TechTarget, and InformationWeek, as well as many others. Her latest book is “Data Divination: Big Data Strategies.” She’s also a popular speaker at technology conferences as well as specialty conferences such as the Excellence in Journalism events and a medical research and healthcare event at the NY Academy of Sciences.

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