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Tech companies are hiring, but who’s applying?

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Job opportunities in computer science have taken off in Washington State since last year. As of April 2010, computer software engineers are second only to health care professionals in number of job vacancies.

Susan Sigl, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association, says she’s noticed the increased demand this year. There are currently 665 positions posted at the company’s job center, and roughly 75 percent of those are in software, IT and engineering positions.

However, Sigl notes that many of these vacant positions are tough to fill.

“The telling statistics are that 87 percent of the WTIA’s Job Center listings require a college degree and 68 percent require 5-7 years of experience,” Sigl says via email. “It isn’t necessarily that the tech sector is creating significantly more jobs, even though there appears to be some of that, but rather the competition for experienced, high quality technical candidates is fierce and the best companies are not lowering their requirement standards, so these positions remain unfilled.”

In other words, what looks like an increase in hiring at first glance may in fact be a widening job gap. Demand for talent in the tech industry outweighs supply, leaving jobs unfilled. The data shows that job opportunities in Washington State are on the rise. Whether or not there are trained workers ready to fill these jobs is another matter.

More to come on this story.


Written by Steve Reno

September 15, 2010 at 10:15 am

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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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

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

Unemployment Falls to 8.9% in June

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Washington State Employment

Graph Courtesy of Washington State Employment Security Department

It appears that things are looking up for Washington State labor force, unless you work for the government.

Unemployment in Washington State dipped to 8.9 percent for the month of June. This compares with 9.2 percent in May and 9.1 percent in June of 09. It looks like the economy has started to rebound and more people are finding jobs.

Most of the growth came from the private sector, with education and health services adding 1,300 jobs and construction adding an additional 1,000. No such ray of hope for government employees, almost 8,000 government jobs were cut throughout the month. Other sectors that saw growth were retail, manufacturing and good production.

Although the number of unemployed people dropped, the number of people employed also decreased. Dave Wallace, the acting chief economist for Washington State Employment Security, believes this largely has to do with the government letting some 7000 census workers go over the course of the summer, but there are also other factors. “Discouraged workers are no longer looking for jobs, people have moved out of state and students are going back to school,” he says.

Wallace also predicted that the private sector will continue to remain steady. “It showed growth, and may continue with moderate growth. At the least it will remain steady,” he says.

Questions have arisen relating to the decrease in unemployment, particularly surrounding the way unemployment benefits factor into the data. Although the number of people receiving unemployment is a factor, it doesn’t account for much more than 20 percent of the data, Wallace says. The biggest factor is a survey in which families are called and asked to report the number of unemployed people in their household.

Jump to read the full report.

Jump again for more stats about Washington employment.

Written by Wes Simons

August 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm