What Recession? Region’s IT Economy is Booming

The U.S. economy’s seeming slide toward recession hasn’t affected high-tech hiring in the Massachusetts region, the Boston Globe‘s Robert Weisman is reporting this morning. That parallels what we learned back in December, when we wrote about the out-and-out talent crunch many local high-tech firms are confronting, especially when it comes to hiring experienced software engineers.

Weisman cites figures from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development showing that Massachusetts gained 8,400 professional, scientific, and technical jobs in 2007, along with 2,100 jobs in scientific R&D and 800 jobs in information technology, while at the same time losing 2,600 manufacturing jobs and 3,300 construction jobs.

At SeaChange International, the Acton, MA-based video-on-demand company that we recently highlighted as part of our story on Greater Boston’s Internet video cluster, there are 75 job openings, Weisman reports. “It’s a very competitive job market for software engineers,” Laura Watson, the company’s senior director of human resources, told him. “Most of the people who come in here have offers in a few days.”

Of course, the growth in the IT sector could suddenly stop, as it did in mid-2000 with the collapse of the first Internet bubble. But so far, worldwide demand for software that brings greater efficiency to business or cheaper, more easily accessible forms of communication and entertainment to consumers seems to be bouying up the region’s information-technology economy. Hiring managers told us in December that the competition for qualified engineers is greater than at any time since the Internet boom days of 1999. “This is a great time for very talented people to wake up and look around,” said Jason Gasdick, interim vice president of talent at Web-based physician community Sermo.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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