Categorized | Job Hunting

Bright IT Spots on the Employment Front

Posted on 22 November 2008

Media headlines have been full of news of layoffs. Earlier this year, Seattle-based online retailer laid off 850 employees. Santa Clara, CA, based 3Com Corp., which makes computer networking equipment, has cut more than 4,300 jobs this year. As of May 17, The Industry Standard’s Layoff Tracker showed 107,381 layoffs at dot-com companies since December 1999.

Not all the layoffs have been in the dot-com or high-tech fields. Delta Air Lines subsidiary Comair announced layoffs of 2,400 people in May.

What does all this mean to the new college grad or job seeker? Should you crawl under the covers with a bag of chips and the remote, or get out there and pound the pavement? It seems like few industries or regions are immune from layoffs, but there are bright spots.

While this might not be the year to move to Silicon Valley, other regions are prospering.

What Does It Mean for You?
Despite the big layoffs, unemployment is still low, but the skills in demand have changed. In the technology field, those with softer skills—writers, editors, marketing personnel—are finding it tough to get hired, while computer programmers and other computer specialists are still in demand.

In Texas, the high-tech industry has more openings than job candidates. Last year, Texas needed 35,000 IT workers, but half of the positions remained unfilled. The situation is similar in Washington State, home of Microsoft, where industry association Washington Software Alliance says hiring outpaced layoffs in the Internet and software sectors and will continue to do so through 2002.

Although industry growth has slowed, the WSA projects a need for 12,000 new technically trained employees by 2002, with about half as programmers or software engineers.

Not technically-oriented? Other national surveys report that the best prospects for finding jobs this year are in retail, transportation, education, and public administration.

Time to Think Small
While the layoffs at industry giants grab the headlines and cause shudders on Wall Street, small companies go merrily about their business, and many cannot find the workers they need.

In a recent survey, American City Business Journals found that only 1 percent of small businesses expect to reduce staff over the next six months. In fact, about 18 percent are planning to hire more employees during that period.

Loving Las Vegas
While this might not be the year to move to Silicon Valley, other regions are prospering. Consider two: Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.

According to the most recent census, booming Las Vegas is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, attracting 6,000 new residents a month. And those residents are finding work. The unemployment rate in Nevada is at or below the national rate of about 4 percent. Look for work in services industries, which dominate the local economy, starting with tourism and casinos.

Before you move, consider the book The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000 By Sally Denton and Roger Morris. It will give you a real understanding of what makes Las Vegas tick and why you might want to throw the dice and make your move out to the neon oasis.

Another employment hot spot is the nation’s capital and the surrounding suburbs, where businesses are creating jobs faster than they are cutting them. The region’s mix of industries—government, service, and technology—has softened the impact of the slowdown felt elsewhere in the country.

If you’re looking for a job, expand your search to new regions and new industries and be part of the next big wave in employment: the return to the real world.

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