January 7, 2007
Where the jobs are
Special to The Seattle Times
Close to home and across Washington state, demand is shifting into high gear for professionals in health care, engineering and high tech and the employment forecast looks good for those without a college diploma on their wall as well.
In fact, most employment experts expect a healthy lift-off in hiring for 2007 from Seattle to Spokane with few, if any, blips.
The state saw job growth of 3.8 percent from October 2005 through 2006, while the Seattle/King County area was up 2.9 percent, according to Dave Wallace, occupational information manager at the state Employment Security Department's Labor Market and Economic Analysis office. Dovetailing with these figures are results from the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, a hiring forecast released each year by the national placement agency. Manpower's Seattle survey shows 28 percent of local companies interviewed expect to hire more employees in this year's first quarter.
The forecast calls for jobs
Fastest-growing occupations in Seattle/King County (projected through 2014)
Mathematical technicians: 31 44.9 percent
Hazardous-materials-removal workers: 233 42.1 percent
Computer programmers: 3,534 39.1 percent
Computer-software engineers (systems): 4,288 38.5 percent
Computer/information scientists (research): 171 38.4 percent
Travel guides: 36 37.9 percent
Refuse and recyclable-material collectors: 272 37.1 percent
Multimedia artists, animators: 1,113 36.0 percent
Computer-software engineers (applications): 7,350 36.0 percent
Crossing guards: 427 35.8 percent
Source: Labor Market and Economic Analysis, Employment Security Department
"Employers are also more optimistic about hiring than they were a year ago, when 21 percent of companies surveyed thought job gains were likely ... " says Manpower spokesman Jim Nelson.
What else has changed on the local hiring scene in the past year? Construction. While homebuilding-related employment has been one of the fastest-growing industries statewide over the past two years adding more than 13,000 new local positions in 2006 alone this sector is catching its breath. Related positions don't appear on the Seattle/King County Top 10 list for employment vacancies or fast-growing jobs in the coming year. Nonetheless, the outlook is optimistic.
"Homebuilding construction is starting to level off, and with this plateau some jobs are expected to decline, but those workers will do fine because the general consensus is that these jobs will be shifting away from residential to nonresidential construction, and this will sustain it," says Wallace.
Health care, however, continues to suffer from a chronic worker shortage. Registered nurses top the Seattle/King County list of occupations with the highest number of openings and other health-care specialists are in short supply as well.
"Nurses are hard to keep," says Wallace. "There's a high turnover rate and the stress level is very high. With this combination, there's really no end in sight to the registered-nursing shortage and there's a strong need for LPNs [licensed practical nurses] and radiology technicians, too."
The highest-flying jobs of the year, meanwhile, are expected in high tech and aerospace. Aerospace, which already employs 75,500 workers statewide, saw a 7 percent hiring bump in 2006 as new plane orders poured in at Boeing and local economic forecaster Dick Conway says 7,000 to 10,000 jobs could be added in the next two years. In Snohomish County, aerospace-related hiring projections are revving even stronger. Engineering and mechanics jobs are expected to increase by 9 to 10 percent here in 2007, says Wallace.
Seattle/King County occupations with highest number of vacancies
1) Registered nurses: 1,700
2) Packaging and filling machine operators/tenders: 1,087
3) Computer-software engineers, applications: 789
4) Business-operations specialists: 701
5) Cashiers: 674
6) Waiters/waitresses: 658
7) Laborers (freight, stock) and materials movers: 634
8) Accountants/auditors: 568
9) Retail salespeople: 541
10) Computer-systems analysts: 513
Source: Seattle/King County extract from Washington State Job Vacancy Survey, April 2006
Labor Market and Economic Analysis, Employment Security Department
The forecast is just as bright across the state in Spokane County a region with a nearly 5 percent employment surge in 2006. Residential and commercial construction helped add more than 10,000 new jobs there.
In the Seattle area, high-tech occupations are listed as five of the 10 fastest-growing occupations in the Seattle/King County area.
Engineering and computer-related jobs could account for more than 16,000 jobs over the next seven years, if forecasts hold true.
This comes as no surprise to Colleen Aylward, president of Bellevue-based Devon James Associates, a high-tech recruiting company that works with clients ranging in size from one to 200 employees.
"Technology affects everything," says Aylward, "from the small flooring business in Tukwila to those selling things over the Web."
The key to securing the top high-tech jobs, says Aylward, is broad-based skills.
Professionals previously skilled in JAVA and C++ now "really need to be more well-rounded in multimedia, Web analytics, networking and .NET," she says.
"You'll see growth in digital media because this bleeds over into everything," she says. "It's about creating the interactive experience. It's across all industries. It's not just Google anymore."
Small businesses, Aylward says, will likely see the most job growth in 2007, because "in my view, large businesses will be acquiring small businesses and they will secure employees by acquisitions and merger, taking the place of brand-new hiring."
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