Glimmers Of Hope For North American Tech Jobs
Many of the high-tech jobs lost in North America last year will never return, having shifted to Asia or disappeared altogether during the worst recession to have hit the industry in years. But there are hopeful signs as the book closes on the first calendar quarter of 2010, with various companies, industry sectors and regions announcing hiring or retraining programs.
Given the extent of the job loss since 2008, it will take some time for the industry to ramp back up. The U.S. unemployment rate still stood at 9.7 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported, and the information technology industry shed 12,000 jobs during the month.
Plant closings during the recession worsened the toll in some regions. For example, the unemployment rolls in the Richmond, Va., area—where now-defunct Qimonda had operated a fab—have nearly doubled, to 55,000 displaced workers, or more than one out of every 12 residents, since 2008.
Reports surfaced in March that an entity called Richmond Semiconductor LLC has acquired the Qimonda fab, which is located in Sandston.
Some 69 percent of Californians polled in a recent Citi California Pulse survey said they had seen few signs of economic improvement in the state. But they remain hopeful about the economy as well as their personal finances, particularly over the next 12 months, the most recent quarterly survey found. Some 62 percent of Bay Area residents and 56 percent of Los Angeles area residents believe job opportunities will improve over the period.
The U.S. Department of Labor this week said that approximately 4,000 workers from companies in 10 states—California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin—are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance. Workers covered by the TAA certifications will be contacted by their respective states with instructions on how to apply for individual benefits and services.
Those who apply may receive case management and re-employment services, occupational training, and trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in training. Some workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, along with health coverage tax credits.
Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) recently expanded its U.S. operations with the opening of a packaging and distribution facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The facility is Samsung Mobile's largest U.S. cell phone distribution center in the United States. The Samsung DFW Packaging Center will be home to more than 500 employees.
The Arizona Technology Council this week formed a partnership with Jobing.com to connect local employers and job seekers in the technology industry. With the Council's newly expanded online Career Center, tech industry job seekers now have a repository of available positions posted either through the council or on Jobing.com and its 100 partner employment Web sites in Arizona.
The Utah Technology Council, for its part, has launched a Clean Tech Initiative. "Now is the time for business leaders to act," Richard R. Nelson, president and CEO of the UTC, said in a statement. "Currently, the largest number of green jobs in Utah is in the water/wastewater and recycling/waste segments. Our hope is that the other green segments, specifically in the lower-concentration areas such as energy, will soon be expanding as well."
Utah's venture capital investments are slowly climbing, and the state's business leaders hope to level the playing field with other green-leading states. Neighboring Colorado, for example, logged $458 million in green VC investments in 2008; California tallied $3.5 billion that year.
Employment in Ohio's biosciences sector is on the rise across the state, according to a report released by BioOhio, a nonprofit organization supported by the Thomas Edison Program of the Ohio Department of Development. Total biosciences employment in the state stood at 55,465 in 2008, a 2.8 percent increase over 2007 and an increase of 17.9 percent, or 8,400 jobs, since 2000.
North of the border, Ontario has rolled out the largest green energy initiative of its kind in Canada's history. Under the province's Green Energy Act feed-in tariff program, 184 new contracts for big green-energy projects have been approved, augmenting the 510 midsized projects already announced. The contracts could generate more than 2,500 megawatts, enough electricity to power 600,000 homes.
Ontario's Green Energy Act is part of the provincial government's Open Ontario Plan. It provides a stable price for clean energy producers so they will invest in Ontario and create up to 50,000 jobs.