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.

In the “information” category, where a number of technology jobs get classified, just 200 jobs were added.

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, Tableau and EMC/Isilon continue to hire at an agressive pace in the region, as do Silicon Valley newcomers like Facebook,, 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.”

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  • Renee Gastineau

    One word: training. It appears companies are spending an incredible amount on recruiting and HR, when they might be better off diverting some of those dollars spent on recruiting to training mid-career professionals in the jobs they need to fill. Rather than rely on our state’s underfunded unversity system to churn out engineers every four years, perhaps companies should look at investing in folks who have 10 -15 + years work experience, and willing and excited to learn a new skill. They have adapted their business careers through a decade of huge technological change and adopted new technologies into their work, and might be great candidates for some of these unfilled jobs.

  • brad

    Apple growers can’t find people to pick the apple crop either. It’s not just high tech that is facing a hiring shortage despite the unemployment rate.

  • Linda

    It’s time to redefine “qualified”. I think companies have inflated expectations of what they really need, and hiring processes that screen out very qualified candidates early. Not every hire has to be “brilliant”. Work gets done by competent people. And I can’t count the number of times when I’ve demanded to see the resumes rejected by the recruiter and found multiple strong candidates, one of whom was eventually hired.

    I agree with Renee’s comment as well. Until we learn to invest in our most important assets, our management will always be wasting time on hiring/lay-off cycles.

  • Michael Hazell

    Experience is reason why companies can’t hire people. This could be solved though if you can accept some people who already have a tech background, but doesn’t have a degree, and train them.

  • Mark Eissler

    Agree with Renee. A lot of those tech job descriptions are jammed with requirements as though the employers hope to find a candidate with the 100% exact credentials that they’re looking for. It would make far more sense to promote from within in those instances or loosen up and realize that you will have to provide for an opportunity to adapt.

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