New NC tech poll shows sector slowing amid inflation

Technology

IT training at Wake Tech’s RTP Campus.

IT training at Wake Tech’s RTP Campus.

@waketechcc

Most North Carolina tech companies are still hiring, but the percentage is dropping. Half still expect to grow in the next three months, which marks a fall from past loftier optimism.

The results of the latest Leadership Poll Series, released today by the industry group North Carolina Technology Association, show a statewide tech sector that, if still strong, is hitting turbulence.

The quarterly poll collected responses from more than 120 technology leaders, most of who hold executive “C-suite” positions. Around 69% reported the second quarter, which ran from April to June, had either been “good” or “great” for their companies, a decrease from 82% of leaders who responded this way in the previous N.C. Tech Leadership Poll.

In the new poll, four in five leaders said they were still hiring, marking a decline from the previous two polls which showed more than 93% were adding employees. And asked how they expect their business to perform in the current third quarter, half answered “grow” while 7% said “decline.” In the April poll, 69% had said “grow” and less than 3% anticipated scaling back.

Last week, N.C. Tech announced job openings in the sector had decreased by 10% statewide in June, falling from May’s record-high job posting levels.

These figures paint a less rosy picture of what has been a rapidly growing industry. But N.C. Tech President Brooks Raiford, who led a virtual briefing on the poll results Wednesday, said the sector is robust.

“This would still be considered (pretty good), in general terms, for most sectors,” he said of the hiring figures.

Inflation remained the top issue respondents believed could hinder their business. Attracting enough skilled workers was second.

Nationwide, tech worker unemployment is near all-time lows. This has created a strange dynamic in which companies both fear an economic downturn while struggling to employ enough people said Dennis Stearns, founder of the Stearns Financial Group in Greensboro, which sponsored the N.C. Tech poll.

“It’s truly some unique times we’re living in,” he said during the briefing Wednesday. “We’re definitely in some uncharted waters.”

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.

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This story was originally published July 28, 2022 5:30 AM.

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Brian Gordon is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He writes about jobs, start-ups and all the big tech things transforming the Triangle.