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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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Digging into Microsoft’s Layoffs

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Microsoft Employee Data

Employee Numbers by Sector

Microsoft, ever a cornerstone of Pacific Northwest employers, has suffered through the down economy in a similar fashion to other companies. What is interesting about Microsoft’s layoffs is not necessarily who they laid off or how much, but in whether or not they will be able to recover.

It’s no secret that Microsoft is a target for companies looking to make a name for themselves. From patent lawsuits taking little chunks out of Microsoft’s pockets to big-time competitors looking to hone in on Microsoft’s turf (think Google Docs), the big guys in Redmond are probably getting pretty dizzy trying to figure out which threat to combat first. I didn’t even mention the pressure that Apple is putting on. Oops, now I did.

Michael Cheery, an analyst for Directions on Microsoft, doesn’t see these numbers as an indication for anything larger, other than a bit of restructuring internally. “Periodically they adjust the number of employees,” he says. “This falls within the normal changes that occur within the economic conditions. Microsoft is always looked for talented people, and they have lots of big projects underway and are active in lots of areas.”

Looking at the numbers, it would appear that while Microsoft may make regular adjustments to their workforce, they don’t usually adjust the number down as drastically as they did over the past year. For a company that has posted so much growth in the past, and who always seems to post growth in their filings, this may be a good indicator that Microsoft is losing a bit of speed as it looks to compete with the expanding number of competitors. The SEC filing states that Microsoft’s success “is highly dependent on our ability to attract and retain qualified employees.” We will have to see if they make the turnaround trend and get back to attracting employees.

Jump for a list of Microsoft’s 10-k filings for the last few years.

Written by Wes Simons

August 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Hirings and firings – 8/10

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Who’s Hiring:

Zulily just raised $6 billion in Series B financing and is continuing to grow, according to Xconomy. The six-month old e-commerce company is based in Seattle and offers deals on clothes and toys for children and babies. According to their website, they currently have ten job openings in marketing, programming and business analysis.

DreamBox has five positions open in web and software development. The Bellevue-based company makes online math games for K-3 students.

Who’s Firing:

Xconomy reports that Calypso Medical laid off three people last week. The Seattle-based company raised $50 million in venture capital last year. The company, which develops technology to help target radiation therapy for cancer patients, had 136 employees as of last September.

Written by Steve Reno

August 10, 2010 at 6:59 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

The education bottleneck

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In July, I wrote an article for Seattle Business magazine about how low capacity in our state’s universities is leading to less graduates in high-demand employment sectors such as health care and engineering. Below is a very insightful response to my article from University of Washington electrical engineering professor John D. Sahr, outlining the huge return our state’s economy could see from investing more in these college programs.

“I have just read Steve Reno’s article in Seattle Business magazine.

I recently participated in the admissions process for UW Electrical Engineering for students who will enter our program in Autumn 2010. There were about 320 applications for admission, and we made 120 offers.  We expect about 95 to accept (a very high yield, indicating the strong demand for Electrical Engineering).

Before posing the following rhetorical question, let me add the factoid that retention (how many students who enter Engineering complete their degrees) is very high — 95 percent or better.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Steve Reno

August 4, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Hirings and firings

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Who’s Hiring:

Seattle Business Magazine reports that Seattle-based F5 Networks made Forbes’ list of midsize companies hiring the most right now. F5, which was named one of Washington’s Best Workplaces by Puget Sound Business Journal this year, says it has added 300 positions since last October 2009. The company makes IT software and hardware for banks, universities and Internet search providers. According to their website, F5 currently has 50 job openings in Seattle and four in Spokane.

Who’s Firing:

Microsoft cut jobs from its global work force last month, with TechFlash estimating a few hundred jobs lost in the Seattle region. Today, TechFlash reports that product support and consulting jobs took the biggest hit, dropping to 15,000 people as of June 30 from 17,000 the year before. Jobs in research and development and sales and marketing also fell by 1,000 people each.

Written by Steve Reno

August 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Who's Firing, Who's Hiring

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