It’s almost the end of September, and fall is definitely here. The kids are back in school, the leaves are turning, and everyone is looking for economic indicators to forecast the final fiscal quarter of the calendar. We are often asked these days what we think of the employment landscape, especially in the Seattle area tech sector, and we thought we’d share our outlook. While no prediction is 100% guaranteed, at TalentReach we have decades of experience in the ups and downs of the economy and hiring boom and bust periods.
One term we like is the “vibecession” – a word coined by a financial analyst and social influencer Kyla Scanlon. The word “recession” has been thrown around too much, and no one seems to be able to agree on whether we are in one or not. Our current conditions don’t fit the typical patterns learned in business schools for decades. The word “vibes” is hip but also indicates it’s about feelings. A “vibecession” is when the economy isn’t conclusively in a recession but “the vibes are off.” Tracking emotions and sentiment aren’t new for economists: consumer sentiment is a huge economic indicator. Right now, some people are feeling anxious, even though the good economic news is everywhere. This tracks with our experience: we see some negative headlines (inflation, stock market) but unemployment is at record lows, discretionary travel is booming and business and retail spending is up – unheard of in a true recession. What’s one to make of this?
One thing that can’t be overstated – people are still adjusting to post-pandemic life, and might be feeling more cautious than optimistic as we all know now how quickly things can change. This might be the reason that consumer sentiment is low. But the news is still solidly good on the pandemic side. For employers, this means workers are finally getting back to the office, at least part time, after some bumpy starts. Despite initial grumblings, we’re seeing that most people like being able to connect with coworkers in person again, especially in hybrid situations. With people going back to the office, there is a huge boost in some of the other things that come along with commuting life. Restaurants are packed, and business travel is resuming – all good for the economy.
We’ve seen some companies that had hiring freezes during the pandemic lift them, and are now ramping up. Unemployment nationwide hit 3.5% – an astonishing low, matching the lowest rate we’ve seen in the last 50 years. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area, it’s even lower – 3.1% This tracks what we are seeing from clients. And for in demand tech positions, like engineers or SaaS sales professionals, that number is even lower. There are many open roles for each qualified person, and competition is fierce.
As we look ahead to 2023, we expect more growth and positive news as people move from cautious optimism to full optimism. Political uncertainty will decrease after the mid-term elections, and companies will be ramping up for growth in 2023. From a hiring perspective, there has never been a better time for qualified applicants to look for that new position. For employers, the time is now to start the recruiting process to bring in the talent that will take their organization to new heights in the new year.
Bottom line: we believe the economic outlook in Seattle and beyond to be quite positive. Good vibes only!