Being home to a diverse set of businesses hasn’t insulated the Mile High City from today’s recession.
Denver has been characterized as a small big city. It’s a place that relies heavily on industries such as oil and gas, research and development, technology, insurance and defense. But being home to a diverse set of businesses hasn’t insulated the Mile High City from today’s recession. Indeed, says David Berry, managing director for Denver-based Manpower Professional, the city’s research and development community tends to be one of the first to feel pressure from an economic shift. As a result, many of his clients have cutback on new IT initiatives.
"Without question, projects are being put on hold," says Berry. "There are a tremendous number of people walking the streets. Lots of talent but few opportunities for employment."
As for the types of job skills that are in demand, Berry sees "very little that is not contracting." He notes some demand for substation engineers within the oil and gas industry, .NET developers within the Department of Defense and very specialized engineers for research and development firms.
On Dice, 987 jobs were posted for the area as of March 2009. That compares to 1,815 jobs a year earlier, a 46 percent decrease.
Erik Fleishman, regional manager for Sapphire Technologies’ Denver office, describes the area’s IT job market as mixed. Some companies have stopped hiring while others "have not skipped a beat," he says. Sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare and energy continue to be strong, though even there most non-critical projects were cut during 2008.
"Work that’s being cut now hits close to home," says Fleishman. "There’s only so long before it affects a business, and I expect we will see a wave of hiring when this starts to happen."
Fleishman’s clients continue to demand core Java and .NET development skills in Denver and the surrounding region but, "we have seen a drastic cut in quality assurance, project management and business analyst roles within the last six months," he says. The verticals proving to be his bright spots include oil and gas, government, energy and telecommunications. The demand for contractors versus full-time employment is mixed although "it does seem that the permanent opportunities are less plentiful these days."
"We’ve found that the government is continuing to hire, but still not at the rate we would like to see," says Fleishman. "They, like many companies, are slower than they were a few years ago."
While Denver doesn’t have many headquarters for companies, Brian Taylor, managing director for Technisource, observes the city tends to be a regional hub for many firms. As for the IT industry, Taylor doesn’t think this downturn is as bad as the one experienced during the 2001-2002 dot-com bust. By and large, he’s seeing an uptick for help desk and technical support. Plus, Taylor’s company has seen a rise in the need for quality assurance testers, instructional design and electrical engineers. "Government contracting has been pretty good," he adds.
Hardware projects have slowed down, and Taylor’s noticed fewer jobs for new software implementations using NET and Java. That indicates companies are curtailing implementations of cutting-edge technology, possibly putting them off until 2010.
Adam Glod, a recruiting manager for the Denver-based Robert Half Technology, says his clients need professionals in Web development, along with business intelligence analysts and data warehouse developers. Behind the demand: a desire to implement technology that converts existing data into useful market intelligence.
Most recruiters, in Denver and across the country, say cost-conscious companies are demanding contractors versus permanent hires to get their work done. But, in general, that trend may be taking a hit, as well. Recently, The New York Times reported professional and business services employment fell by 133,000 positions, with more than half the losses in temporary help services. That’s a sign that companies which have already shifted from relying on full-time to temporary people are feeling compelled to cut further.