Manuel Caldera is feeling a bit more optimistic these days,
even though his contract job with a Los Angeles area HMO ends on December 31.
An experienced Solaris, AIX and Linux professional,
Caldera has begun getting calls from recruiters saying companies are getting
ready to hire again come January 2010. His friends report fielding similar
calls. "They feel the industry is coming back," says
Caldera. "I’ve stayed in contact with people I worked with 10, 15 years
ago. Most are unemployed but now they’re getting phone calls and a heads up
(that jobs will be open)."
Brian Gabrielson, regional vice president of Robert Half
Technology’s Los Angeles
office, also sees signs the labor market may be getting better. After July 4,
clients started to put in requests for certain IT specialties, such as virtualization
and collaboration tools like SharePoint. One thing that hasn’t changed much: Companies
are focusing on IT pros who can help grow revenue or reduce costs.
"I think the tide has turned a little bit," says
Gabrielson. "Five or six months ago, not a whole lot was going on. But a
lot of clients cut too much, so now that their business has picked up they’re
starting to layer in workers. They’re saying things like, ‘I may be able to
hire this person, so let’s try them on a contract basis.’" Requests for
direct hires, he notes, have also picked up significantly."
Bob Grimsley, managing director for Technisource’s Los
Angles office, expects full-time jobs to come back sometime in the first half
of 2010. "Clients are coming back to the table because they have projects
that were put on hold that need to get done," Grimsley says. "We are
seeing a demand for project managers and business analysts, ERP, and security. Not
so much in infrastructure."
None of this means things are rosy in Southern
California. Santa Ana-based TTM
Technologies, a printed circuit board manufacturer, announced in
September the firm is closing its facility in Los Angeles,
along with one in Hayward,
resulting in the layoff of 347 employees. The cuts represent approximately 11
percent of the firm’s workforce. Also, Los Angeles-based MySpace chopped 30 percent of its staff
in June, or 400 people. According to a widely distributed memo from Chief
Executive Owen Van Natta, the moves were made "for the long-term
health" of the company, and will cut the number of employees to 1,000.
On Dice, job postings in Los
Angeles have been basically flat the last several
months, with 1,935 on the site in August. That’s down 50 percent from August
has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country – 12.2 percent in
August, compared to 7.6 percent in August 2008, according to The Wall Street
Journal. A UCLA forecast says the Golden
State will continue to
struggle with recession next year even though its high-tech industries will
The quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts the state’s jobless rate will
continue in double digits into 2011. California
relies heavily on the slumping housing and financial industries for its
financial health, and budget problems may cost many government workers their jobs.
However, economists from the university predict Silicon
Valley’s economy will improve thanks to federal stimulus money and
increased tech exports.