Career Center Blog

December 19, 2010

Temp, trade hires may lead job revival in 2011


This week, as greater Seattle gears up for the last-minute shopping binge, most job seekers are pretty much already on holiday from their usual full-time "jobs" of looking for work. With hiring managers either planning holiday parties, on early vacation or planning next year's budget, the filling of job vacancies usually gets pushed to the back burner until the new year.

So this week seems like a good point to step back and look ahead to what may be in store for job seekers next year. It's been a long, tough slog for Seattleites over the last two years, but according to some local employment experts, it seems like 2011 may be a crucial pivot point. By the end of next year, we may start seeing enough job growth in the Puget Sound region to turn our so-called "jobless recovery" into a real employment rebound.

Last week, I spoke to Dave Wallace, acting chief economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department, about what next year has in store for job seekers. For the most part, he said, the state is cautiously optimistic about recent trends, including the growth in the services sector and in "employment services," most of which include temporary hiring. A spike in temp activity, he added, is often a good bellwether about economic recovery, as most companies test the post-recession waters by starting with a few temp hires and then making those positions permanent if growth continues.

"Employment services has been moving up in the last few months," Wallace said. "Anecdotally, I hear that many companies are leaning toward more contract hiring. The question is, is it only short term?"

In its latest forecast for 2011, the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council expects job growth to be weak but steadily improving through the year, with temporary hires leading the way. Here is a list of the general sectors that the Council believes will perform the best next year, followed by the expected number of new jobs that will be created:

  • Professional business services -- 17,000 jobs (including temp hires)
  • Trade, transportation and utilities - 13,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing - 12,000 jobs (mostly from increased Boeing 737 and 777 production)
  • Leisure and hospitality - 7,000 jobs
  • Financial activities - 4,500 jobs
  • Information technology - 3,500 jobs

Many of the trade jobs mentioned above can be traced to Seattle's now-booming maritime business. "We are one of the more export-dependent places in the country, and international trade is really big now," Wallace said. "With our Pacific Rim access, we're in a good position to be a part of the huge growth in trade with China."

"Within the Seattle metropolitan area, it appears that the largest sector of growth may be IT; specifically telecommunications engineering and software development," said Richard Zambacca, president Think Resources, a job placement firm specializing in engineering and technical jobs. "New job postings have doubled in the past few weeks within the IT sector, and staffing is up 44 percent year-over-year."

Growth in some high-paying sectors, such as manufacturing and aerospace, is also predicted to have a positive trickle-down effect on the retail front, said Jan Teague, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association. Last week, she told me that the expected increase in hiring at Boeing and Microsoft next year will help free up dollars to be spent on retail goods. This spending uptick, she said, will likely add 3,300 new net retail jobs in 2011 and 7,900 by the end of 2012, which translates to an annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Perhaps none of this is enough good news to make this a particularly merry holiday season for long-suffering job seekers. But, with so many analysts predicting that conditions will be at least incrementally better next year, hopefully this news can be considered a small gift under the tree -- not to be opened until after Christmas.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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its usually difficult for Job seekers to get employment this period.

it's really a hard time to find a good job

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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