The market for software developers and engineers in the Seattle area is pretty tight, as evidenced by Zynga’s swanky party last night to celebrate the opening of its new Seattle engineering office. The message was clear at that event and other high-tech gatherings around Seattle: Fast-growing technology companies need talented workers. But does that tech worker shortage translate to the broader economy in the state? Or is it just an insignificant subsegment?
It appears to be the latter as Washington state’s unemployment rate remains stuck at a little over nine percent. Just 1,100 jobs were added last month as the unemployment rated edged up to 9.2 percent. But even so — just a little bit of job growth — is good news, according to Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause.
“We’re picking up a little steam,” Trause said in a statement. “The consistent job growth we’re starting to see now is really encouraging.”
The information category, where a number of tech jobs get classified, saw growth of just 300 jobs during the past month when compared to the same period last year. Interestingly, that comes amid a major hiring boom at local tech companies. (In recent weeks, we’ve noted job growth at companies such as Amazon, Avalara, Windermere Solutions, Zillow and others).
Zynga, the San Francisco-based online gaming powerhouse, established its offices in Seattle in part to tap smart technical talent. And last night’s shindig was highlighted by Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, who encouraged workers to apply.
“We’ve envied the level of engineering talent up here in Seattle from a distance for a long time, and we’ve tried to recruit people from Seattle and get them to move to San Francisco, with very limited success. I guess people like the weather and the coffee,” he said. “For us, we are excited about having an office here where we can recruit both world-class engineers and world-class entrepreneurs.”
Zynga has room for about 35 staffers in the new office space, but like so many tech companies it doesn’t necessarily recruit from the pool of unemployed. Instead, Zynga, Facebook, Salesforce.com and other Silicon Valley giants that have set up outposts in Seattle in recent months are trying to pull talented workers out of companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia and RealNetworks.
And that may be one of the reasons why the supposed technical talent crunch isn’t having a big impact on the numbers. In fact, startup companies are pulling out the stops in order to attract workers, giving out free cheeseburgers and cats to lure workers.
You can see the full unemployment report here.