It may seem like the economy is back on track in Washington state, especially for those who work within the bubble that’s the tech industry. But the unemployment rate edged up to 8.6 percent for the month of August, rising from 8.5 percent in July, according to a report out today from the state’s Employment Security Department.
During August of 2011, the unemployment rate stood at 9.2 percent. The unemployment rates in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area also rose, moving from 7.5 percent to 7.7 percent.
The nagging unemployment rate is taking on added importance in this key election year. The high rates also come in stark contrast to the problems that many high-tech companies face in finding qualified engineers, designers and marketers. Big companies such as Amazon.com, Tableau and EMC/Isilon continue to hire at an agressive pace in the region, as do Silicon Valley newcomers like Facebook, Salesforce.com, Splunk and others, all of which have opened branch offices in the city in recent months.
At a panel discussion in Seattle last night hosted by Harvey Nash, panelists lamented the tough hiring environment.
“I feel like if I didn’t have to recruit, I’d have another 40 hours in my week,” said WhitePages Chief Technology Officer Scott Sikora in summarizing the challenge. “It is the biggest restrictor on our growth … the ability to find talented engineers.”