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Archive for August 2010

Despite high unemployment, tech sector layoffs remain low

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Here’s an interesting graph from the September issue of Seattle Business magazine showing the number of layoffs in the tech industry nationally compared to the number of mass layoffs in Washington State. It’s worth a look to compare the number of tech layoffs in 2001, at the height of the dot com bust, with 2009, at the height of the current recession.

The graph also shows that the number of tech sector layoffs is estimated to have dropped by at least 70,000 this year. A post I did earlier this month found that job vacancies in the tech sector is also on the rise. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on these trends.

Written by Steve Reno

August 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Unemployment

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Seattle is 13th easiest city to find a job in.

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Seattle was the 13th easiest major city to find a job in based on the rankings from Juju.com. Juju’s rankings are compiled by dividing the number of unemployed laborers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in each metro area with the “number of jobs in Juju’s comprehensive index of millions of online jobs in the United States, which is compiled and updated continuously from thousands of employer career portals, recruiter websites, and job boards all over the Internet.”

Juju might be tooting their own horn a little with that last bit, but the survey does give a good indication of how Seattle is weathering the economic times. The large companies in Seattle, especially the tech industry, are helping to keep employment up even as other sector’s struggle.

The top five cities are Washington, D.C; San Jose, CA; New York, NY; Baltimore, MD; and Hartford, CT. Seattle is the only Washington city on the chart, and Portland makes a late appearance at 41. Despite D.C. holding the top spot, the unemployment rate is actually higher, at 10.5 percent, than Seattle’s 8.9 percent. D.C. has 1.18 unemployed persons per available job.

One problem with the survey is that it takes into account several jobs that don’t pay a livable wage, as well as internships. Have you found job hunting in Seattle easier than in other cities?

Jump to get a look at the full rankings, and to browse Juju’s job database.

Written by Wes Simons

August 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Hirings and firings – 8/25

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Who’s hiring: Government jobs may be disappearing in Washington State, but a job plan unveiled by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Tuesday promises to change that. The 25-page plan lists some 10,000 new jobs that would be created through infrastructure projects, retrofitting existing infrastructure, and investment in small businesses, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Who’s firing: Seattle software company Varolli Corporation laid off an undisclosed number of employees, TechFlash reports. Varolli also cut eight percent of its workforce in January 2009. The company still employees more than 250 people.

Written by Steve Reno

August 25, 2010 at 10:51 am

Washington unemployment drops again, sort of…

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Unemployment in Washington dropped for the second month in a row to 8.9 percent, according to the Washington State Employment Situation Report. That’s an interesting statistic, because last month’s unemployment was also 8.9 percent, and by my calculations, taking into consideration the fact that I majored in English and not math, that isn’t a decrease.

As it turns out, last month’s number is an estimate, and after factoring in adjustments, the actual unemployment rate was 9.0 percent. While unemployment dropped, there were also several thousand jobs cut in the government and public sectors once again.

The report isn’t all negative. There was an overall increase in the number of people employed in Washington, not include census workers, and there are more people employed than there were a year ago. This is good news, but the small increases don’t mean much if they don’t happen month to month.

One big question remains: Where are all those government workers going to go?

Dave Wallace, the acting chief economist for Washington State Employment Security, says that although the loss of government jobs won’t continue at the current pace, it can be hard to tell where those employees will end up. “Some of them might be working part time, in which case they might not be considered unemployed. They may be close enough to retirement age, so they could exit the labor force.”

Right now it’s very hard to tell how the unemployment rate will fare over the next couple of months, but the increase in private hiring is a good sign for job hunters hoping to find employment soon.

Jump for the full report.

Written by Wes Simons

August 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Venture Capitalists Let Slip That Things Might Stay the Same

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VC Survey Results

The World's Most Boring Graph

Okay, it wasn’t a big information leak. The information came from Washington Technology Industry Association survey of Washington-based venture capitalists released about a week ago. They mostly predicted that growth would be stable or small, not surprising given the economic situation. However, this information is important for Seattle area job seekers because growth usually equals more jobs.

Unfortunately, most of the VC’s polled didn’t think that the companies they funded would be hiring in the next quarter. Susan Sigl, the CEO of the WTIA, had this to say: “Based on our recent survey, the state of the venture capital market in Washington is that of cautious optimism, and as such, most VCs are predicting moderate revenue growth, no lay-offs and very limited hiring within their portfolio companies this quarter.”

Not terribly enlightening, but everyone in the VC funded community can breathe a little easier, that is if people trust the predictions of venture capitalists. While hiring certainly would have been good news, not firing should also be considered a positive.

Sigl also mentioned that VC funded companies aren’t the only employment options in town. “If the nearly 640 jobs posted in the WTIA Job Center are any indication, there are still many non-venture backed companies seeking qualified candidates to fill available positions in our local technology industry,” she says.

A quick look through the listings made one thing clear, Amazon is always looking for new talent, and they aren’t afraid to advertise it.

Written by Wes Simons

August 19, 2010 at 4:19 am

Posted in Who's Hiring

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Job openings in computer science on the rise

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In Washington State, where the tech industry remains a driving force in the local economy, you might think all the jobs for computer software engineers would be taken. According to the Job Vacancy Survey Report published last month, however, that’s not the case.

In a list of occupations with the highest number of vacancies in the state, computer software engineers were at number 2, with 1,929 vacancies. That’s a tremendous increase from last fall, when computer software engineers and computer specialists ranked 12th and 13th respectively, accounting for only 840 job vacancies total. By contrast, registered nurses, who were at number 1 in both reports, remained steady.

Job vacancies for computer software engineers compared to registered nurses. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

In the list of job vacancies by major occupation group, vacancies in the “computer and mathematical” category also increased from 1,542 in 2009 to 3,538 in 2010.

Is this a sign that the tech industry is helping boost the economy by creating more jobs? Or, as I contended last month, is it an indication that local companies are having a tough time finding talent in the computer science field? We’ll follow up on this story, so stay tuned.

Jump for the full report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Note: The graph shows the total for all computer software engineering jobs, including subcategories in software development and applications.

Written by Steve Reno

August 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Ascentium hires 25 from former competitor

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The Puget Sound Business Journal reported yesterday that Seattle-based marketing company HL2 officially went out of business. The story said that the company had been in business for 15 years, but was struggling after losing clients during the recession.

The good news is that 25 of the company’s 40 former employees have been hired on by local competitor Ascentium.

“We are happy to welcome HL2 to Ascentium. We respect HL2’s portfolio of work and creative approach to projects and are looking forward to merging their talent and philosophies into our experience agency model,” business manager Krystin Maddox said in an email to Seattle Job Blog.

According to TechFlash, Ascentium has about 500 employees, and according to the company’s website, they are still hiring, with over 20 openings in the Seattle/Bellevue area.

Update: Tom Stankus, director of people development at Ascentium, called and spoke with me about the company’s decision to hire on 25 people from HL2.

“One of the reasons we brought them over was not only to keep them from being unemployed, but to keep them working on some of the accounts they were working on when they were over there [at HL2],” he said.

In addition to those 25 hires, Ascentium added seven new members to its team this week and is continuing to grow.

Written by Steve Reno

August 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Who's Hiring

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