Regional Employment Pulse: Massachusetts Is Hanging On

The overall economy is still not healthy, but Massachusetts, with its strong technology corridor, is seeing an uptick in hiring and opportunities. From the Federal Reserve to the individual worker, Massachusetts is expected to have an easier time recovering because of its high technology demand and its low speculative housing market.

Boston and the state of Massachusetts are struggling economically like everywhere, but there are some signs of life for technology workers. Technology companies are expected to come out of the recession stronger, and opportunities for technology jobs are starting to open up again, says a recent Boston Globe article. Numbers on technology equipment demand are up, says government data, and confidence emanating from Boston's Federal Reserve office have many in the Bay State feeling they will be OK.
But it's not without some pain.
A recent CNN Money article profiled those who have been on the job hunt since 2008, including 33-year-old software engineer Phil Kasiecki from Stoughton, Mass. Kasiecki is looking for a senior level position, but considers himself to be in the mid-to-senior level of his career--a tough place to be for many in a recession as pressure to reduce headcount generally squeezes out well paid mid-to-senior level workers.
Kasiecki writes, "I have been out of work for nine months and looking for a new job for just over a year. I'm trying to be hopeful, especially since I see better jobs opening up all the time than I saw several months ago. Hopefully all the networking and professional organization meetings I went to the latter part of the spring will start to bear some fruit before long."
A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve thinks so, according to the Globe article.
"We are well situated to come out of this better and sooner than other parts of the country,'' said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. "Our banks and financial institutions are healthier. Businesses are in a better position to get credit here. Our key industries have not been at the center of job losses.''
Though like Wall Street, many of the financial services companies such as Fidelity Investments in Massachusetts have had their share of job losses. However, a low speculative housing market has been a good situation for the state as regional numbers are much better than the national one.
Still, there were technology layoffs in the region over the summer months, though at a slower pace than earlier in 2009 and the end of 2008.
Past recessions in Massachusetts haven't always been so kind to technology workers, and keeping afloat is the name of the game right now. When Massachusetts faced recessions in the past, many left the state. Now, the state is holding on to its worker base.

When the state lagged behind the rest of the nation after the last two recessions, the recovery here was undermined as workers and businesses fled to other regions with stronger economies, said Andre Mayer, senior vice president of research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts. "If we can avoid that,'' he said, "it's a win for us.''
With many regions hit harder than Massachusetts, the state is holding onto its workers. The labor force is continuing to grow, according to state employment figures, and the net number of people leaving the state is at its lowest level since 2001, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
As of Sept. 28, the technology job board shows 1,923 job opportunities in the Boston area--many that are contract-based, but offer full-time work.