The greater Seattle metropolitan area continues its robust recovery from the Great Recession, registering average wage increases and unemployment rates lower than both long-term local averages and current national percentages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the June unemployment rate for Seattle, Washington was 4.8 percent. The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area had the largest year-over-year unemployment rate decrease out of 23 metropolitan divisions. The city’s long-term outlook is also strong. Seattle’s long-term unemployment average is 5.71 percent and at 7.4 percent, the national unemployment rate is higher than the current Seattle unemployment rate.

During the month of July, the Department of Labor reported that employers throughout the U.S. added 162,000 new jobs, a gain that helped the national unemployment rate reach a new low. In Seattle, employment numbers are bolstered by the continued success of several sectors, including technology and finance and accounting. Washington state’s average wage hit an all-time high last year and looks to continue to climb. According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, Washington’s average annual wage went over the $50,000 mark in 2012, increasing 3.4 percent from the prior year. Wage growth increases were highest in company management, which saw an increase of 17.6 percent; information, which increased 11.5 percent; and agriculture, which increased 11.5 percent.

Seattle-based recruiter Systems Research Inc. (SRI) places Seattle candidates in multiple practice areas, including manufacturing, sales and marketing, engineering, management, global healthcare, finance, IT, executive leadership and human resources. According to SRI Recruiting Manager Robb Callon, highly technical positions are the hottest hiring positions now – but the hottest positions ebb and flow with the economy. Callon feels that Seattle’s $50k+ average salary aligns with the city’s employment outlook.

“Salaries in the greater Seattle area seem to be in line with how competitive the job market is,” Callon explained.

“The salaries that companies offer are reflective of how competitive the market is. They’re offering those higher salaries for the positions that are harder to fill, such as aerospace and information technology-centric positions for companies like Boeing, Amazon, Google and Facebook. Highly technical positions are the hottest hiring positions at this point, but trends ebb and flow in the economy. When the economy started to stabilize, companies needed additional IT help to assist the influx of customers.”

While Seattle’s current economic climate continues to improve for job seekers, Callon advises job seekers to be strategic about both their education and their vocational goals.

“You need to really think about your degree and study something versatile, or it really limits your ability to get a job,” he stated. “I often ask job candidates: ‘What do you want to do?’ and it seems to be a really challenging question among fresh graduates. If you don’t know what you want to do, no employer will be able to figure it out for you. A company isn’t going to try to navigate your own career path. You’re going to have to chart your own course.”

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on
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