Better Numbers, But Still an Up and Down Job Market in Silicon Valley

The latest unemployment figures from California’s
Employment Development Department show
a decline in Santa Clara
County to 11 percent, the
lowest rate in a year, down from a high of 12.1 percent last January. Statewide,
the unemployment figure was a bit worse at 12.4 percent.

Better Numbers, But Still an Up and Down Job Market in Silicon ValleyAlthough the general feeling among California
economists is that the picture in Silicon Valley’s
technology industry is less gloomy than elsewhere in the once-Golden State,
there are still large numbers of IT people who have been out of work for a year
or more.  

Multiple Offers for
Some, Serial Layoffs for Others?

As if to underscore the uneven nature of the current
recession/recovery taking place in Silicon Valley, the experience of IT job
hunters at the NOVA
Job Seeker
Center in Sunnyvale has been disheartening for some and
upbeat for others.

On the one hand, NOVA
director Kris Stadelman reports
having had some recent clients who’d been laid off early in the recession, then
found a job, and were laid off a second time. "It’s often true that people
in IT have experienced serial layoffs for a variety of reasons," Stadelman
observes. "Usually the last ones hired are the first ones out the door"
when a layoff occurs.

The flip side: The recession never really dampened demand
for certain IT skills – most notably software architects and project managers.
As a result, some of those professionals are enjoying multiple offers. "All
the way through this recession there have been shortages of certain skill sets,"
Stadelman says. "For IT people, though, they may also need to be able to
cover more disciplines, so that if they knew IT and vendor contracting, now
they also need finance skills."    

Yet another mini-trend Stadelman sees is the overworking of tech
professionals more than ever before. Partly this is a result of the recession,
and partly it’s because companies have cut back so much when they still need to get
a certain amount of work done. "The people who are left are doing two or
three jobs."  

Wells Fargo, PG&E Add
Contract IT Help

In the wake of its merger with Wachovia Bank, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo’s
IT department continues to expand. The bank is bulking up with an influx of
contract workers, according to an insider at TekSystems. In particular, Wells Fargo needs business analysts,
project managers, and quality assurance professionals. Most IT contracts are
for a maximum of 18 months.

Also gobbling up contract help is Pacific Gas & Electric. In a situation similar to Wells Fargo,
PG&E is adding IT contractors for its rollout of millions of smart meters
statewide, as well as for other project-based work.

— Doug Bartholomew