Re: Grim numbers, just grim

Subject: Re: Grim numbers, just grim
From: "Steve Arrants" <stephena -at- compbear -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 10:30:25 -0800

"Sass Nielsen" <sass -dot- nielsen -at- peregrine -dot- com> writes:
> >Living in the Bay Area, where the price of a tiny 3 bedroom house is
about
> $500,000 -- I just wonder how people are going to keep roofs over their
> heads.

Tapping into their 401(k), using up savings, taking almost any job available
just to keep the roof over their heads.

> No kidding. So do those of us living here who have gotten laid off. I live
> in the north bay and there are no Technical Writing jobs up here. I have
not
> seen one on the boards or in the paper for the last three months, so I
went
> down to the lower bay area this weekend to scout it out. It is
unbelievably
> changed. The San Jose and San Mateo newspapers had ONE technical writer
ad.

The local papers (SJ Merc, SR Press-Democrat, SF Chronicle, Oakland Trib,
etc.) never have the 'latest' ads. DICE, Monster, Craigslist, etc. are
better choices. The best choice is to network, network, network.
Occasionally, the local STC chapters have openings that aren't announced
other places. Just got email from the Berkeley chapter about an opening at
Fair, Isaac in San Rafael and Emeryville. (Mail me privately and I'll
forward the listing--I hope Eric doesn't consider this email an ad!).
It used to be a good market here in the North Bay--Telecom Valley (the
Petaluma/Cotati/Rohnert Park/Santa Rosa areas along 101) was booming, and
there were lots of jobs available. Nokia was putting a lot of money in the
area. Nokia, in fact, just finished a huge, beautiful new building in Santa
Rosa off of Stony Point. They're not hiring. :-(

Autodesk in San Rafael was hiring until this past summer. Friends there say
they need folks, but there's no budget, so they're ending up either doing
more work or cutting deliverables.

Medtronics in Santa Rosa has cut back, too. O'Reilly and Associates just
went through another RIF.

> I know there are many many techwriters in the area who have gotten laid
off
> and are hoping to land that job. And the newspapers had pages upon pages
of
> houses for sale or rent. [...] I asked my
> sister, who lives there, why they don't just lower the rents to something
> reasonable so that they could get new tenants. She said they have!...prior
> to 9/11 these $500,000 homes were over $600,000 and studio apartments were
> about $2000.

The housing market hasn't collapsed all that much. It is down from the boom
days where a house could go on the market and be sold before the ad even
hits the papers. Neighbor down the road bought his house in 1997 for
$135,000 and sold it last March for $210,000 ($15,000 above asking price).
Now, this is in a rural area of Sonoma County (Russian River area) prone to
floods, mudslides, blackouts, and the like. Housing from Windsor to
Petaluma is still strong, though your house may be on the market for three
weeks before sale instead of one week plus last summer. And prices ARE
starting to come down. It is rentals (apartments and condos) that are
scarce up here.

Add in the commute, which is truly terrible....even public transit to SF can
take up to 2 hours from Santa Rosa.

> In Portland, $35/hr for experienced tehnical people may be low...in the
San
> Francisco bay area, it is not even a livable wage.

But that's what's being offered, and for some folks, that's what they're
taking. I've lived here since 1992, and this is the absolute worst job
market I've seen. It isn't just affecting the tech writers, etc. It is
affecting all sorts of businesses. My partner works at an arts organization
in Santa Rosa. They lease part of their facility to a private school that
was formed just a few years ago, driven by new folks moving into the area
(telecom valley folks) who didn't feel the public schools were quite up to
snuff. Tuition alone is $12,000. Every student gets his or her own Mac
laptop. (Glen is always finding laptops left around the grounds by kids who
'forgot' where they left them.) At their last open house for prospective
students, only 5 parents showed up. They expected 100.

The news says the recession is bottoming out and we've turned a corner, but
I'm not sure what's around that corner. Still, there ARE jobs out there,
and I believe it was Bruce Byfield who reminded us that things are more like
pre-1998. It just takes more time and effort (and will?) to crack the
market.

steve arrants



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References:
RE: Grim numbers, just grim: From: Sass Nielsen

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