By some accounts, California is rebounding more slowly than the national economy. The state’s 12.6 percent jobless rate far exceeded the 9.9 percent national rate in April, according to The New York Times.
But recruiters are generally painting a more positive picture, at least for the tech labor market in Los Angeles. Overall, recruiters interviewed by Dice News say clients are looking for a range of IT professionals, from business analysts to project managers, Web developers to .NET and Java experts, business intelligence developers to ERP professionals and enterprise content managers.
Verticals in play include entertainment, healthcare, insurance, mortgage finance, and pharmaceuticals.
Bob Grimsley, managing director for Technisource’s Los Angeles office, says companies aren’t really looking for help with new infrastructure, but for professionals who can work with what currently is in place. However, a good 30 percent of job orders are for direct, full-time hires for Web designing and .NET – up 5 percent from the beginning of the year. At least 30 to 40 percent are for project managers and business analysts.
In May, job postings on Dice stood at 2,783, a 2.6 percent improvement from April and a 42.7 percent increase from the previous year.
Craig Kapper, a senior regional vice president for Robert Half Technology’s Los Angeles area and the state’s southern region, says his office is seeing a "tremendous pickup for the IT profession," specifically in hard-to-find skill sets like Java, SharePoint and .NET.
"We saw a pickup in February, and ever since then, there’s been several months of sequential growth," he adds. His clients need IT professionals that have anything to do with Web development, such as interface designers, user exchange experts and those who know their way around Java, Oracle and SAP. The mobile application space is particularly hot.
Steve Matas, manager director at COMSYS/Manpower, agrees the market has improved. "It’s picked up quite a bit compared to when it was the lowest of the lows. It’s not what it was two years ago, but it’s back to a degree."
Project managers, in particular, are in play.
"A lot of clients are building project management organizations," says Matas, adding those clients are mostly among the Fortune 500. However, he notes, his clients are most interested in contractors. Recently, out of 60 open job orders, only two were for full-time workers. About five were contract-to-permanent. "The rest were contract jobs."
Recruiters see a mixed bag when it comes to contractor pay rates versus consultanting pay rates.
Some say contractors’ rates have been under pressure. "There’s been steady pressure on them for the last two years. In the last 12 months, the pressure on rates has gotten more significant," Matas says. "Consultancy pay rates have gone down nearly as fast."
However, Dan Cordero, a branch manager at Sapphire Technologies’ Los Angeles office, says the pay rates have been trending upwards. "It probably increased $10 an hour, so that’s a sign of a high level of demand again."
According to a recent poll on Dice, only 8 percent of 604 respondents said contractor rates are back to pre-crash levels. Thirty-five percent said rates are stagnant; 17 percent said it depends on the job, while 16 percent said rates are somewhat better. (Twenty four percent said they’re not working as contractors.)
James Whitcomb, a project manager, agrees the work situation is improving. He couldn’t find much contract work last year, but this year he landed a gig that should keep him employed until August. He hopes it will translate into a full-time position.
— Sonia R.Lelii