January 12, 2014
Steady job growth: Seattle area will add to 2013 gains
Every year, labor-market economists pore over numbers on spreadsheets that will predict job growth in Washington for the New Year. The results are in, and according to the experts, the Pacific Northwest should continue to see steady job growth in most sectors in 2014.
If you work in the computer industry in the Northwest, you may have won the occupational lottery. Software applications developers have one of the strongest occupations in Seattle, with more than 3 percent job growth projected for 2014 and an estimated addition of 1,083 jobs.
The occupation is unique because so many of the openings will be new jobs, not just those from turnover, says Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist for the state’s Employment Security Department. “We’ll see a lot of technology jobs and a lot of innovation” this year, she says.
Besides the computer field, Vance-Sherman also predicts high growth in the sciences, health care, engineering, arts design and entertainment media.
The projected gains, and a stabilized economy, are good news for those who have been plotting a career move. According to a recent online poll by Right Management, 83 percent of those surveyed planned to “actively look for a new position in 2014.”
Seattle-King County’s fastest-growing occupational groups for 2012-14:
• Computers and mathematics
• Life, physical and social sciences
• Health-care support
• Architecture and engineering
Like employees, owners of local businesses also may be starting to feel more secure, says Josh Warborg, Seattle-based district president of consulting firm Robert Half, Inc.
“The big difference for 2014 is that the economy is now stable enough that companies are willing to put money into their businesses without putting the company at risk,” Warborg says.
He adds that companies are doing things like updating the software or technology in the office, which is resulting in even more hiring.
In spite of the gains from a robust labor market in 2013, there will be a few declines, according to Steve Lerch, executive director of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Boeing is a harbinger of changes to the aerospace labor market; although jobs in the aerospace industry grew by 2.2 percent last year, they are projected to decline by 2.9 percent in 2014.
“It’s a combination of two things: the transition from planning and design of the 787 into production, and the production becoming more efficient,” says Lerch. But there are plenty of people working on the planes, he says, and growth has slowed only a bit.
Construction is another sector that has taken a few hits but is still relatively strong. Jobs are still being added to make up for the 35 percent of the workforce that was lost from 2008 to 2010. Although construction is among the fastest-growing occupations, its projected growth is nowhere near what was seen in 2013. This is probably a result of slowing in the housing market, as mortgage rates and home prices have risen, says Lerch.
Tough year for some fields
Some jobs are just plain declining in Washington, including the three F’s: farming, fishing and forestry occupations. Vance-Sherman notes that educational, training and library occupations are not expected to have much growth next year. Protective-service occupations will also be slow to hire.
The 20 jobs with the most openings are actually lower-wage, high-turnover positions, experts say. These are the “nametag” jobs, such as cashiers and retail sales staff.
Overall, the employment outlook for 2014 is holding steady. Even with approximately 235,200 unemployed statewide and a state unemployment rate of 6.8 percent (5.7 percent in the Seattle metro area), Washington is one of the best places to look for and keep a job, according to industry experts.
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