The economy added a stronger-than-expected 165,000 positions in July. (Here are perspective pieces from Reuters and Bloomberg.) That has equity investors headed into the weekend whistling an upbeat tune. At about 1:10 p.m., the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up more than 2 percent. A number of Nashville-area stocks are doing much better than that on the day: An interesting mix of cyclical and health care names are up at least 4 percent.
A recent Manpower survey says two out of five employers are still having a tough time finding skilled labor despite a stubbornly high unemployment rate. That, says Dennis McCafferty at Baseline, has more business investing in training and mentoring programs.
Small businesses sentiment continues to be a very mixed indicator for the overall economy. The July survey of employment and compensation trends by SurePayroll shows Nashville's entrepreneurs cutting back 0.2 percent rom June on hiring this month but paying their people a bit more. That puts us pretty squarely in the middle of SurePayroll's city-by-city listing.
There's no denying that Middle Tennessee's IT community has a buzz like never before. Networking groups are gaining traction, entrepreneurial ventures are sprouting left and right and various recent events have attracted Googlephiles and those hungry for hackathons. Pub like this Fast Company piece doesn't hurt, either.
So when the Nashville Technology Council's quarterly report on area tech job openings showed a big drop — 17 percent from early this year and 35 percent from last summer — we scratched our heads and called NTC chief Liza Lowery Massey for some perspective.
There's no simple answer that explains the drop, Massey said. Macroeconomic issues definitely play a role — job growth has slowed again nationally and regionally in recent months — while this fall's election has put on hold a lot of people's plans. On top of that, the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care reform may have some of our biggest corporate names treading water as they wait to see how rules and regulations will shake out.
Another factor to consider is that, as efforts by the NTC and others to build a tighter tech community gain a foothold, a lot of hiring activity is becoming more informal and moving away from the job boards that make up the NTC's survey.
One of the positives Massey noted in the NTC's numbers: Two firms outside of health care — law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw & Whitman and logistics giant OHL — showed up among the top companies looking to fill spots. Combine that trend with the other drivers in the local tech scene and things look set to get better, especially once the macro clouds dissipate.
Perusing a fat Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Emdeon to outline the registration of some of its debt, we noticed that the company had added 300 people — a 10 percent boost — in the past 15 months, the last eight of which have been under the umbrella of private-equity titan Blackstone Group. About 150 of those positions have come courtesy of the two acquisitions, but spokesman Tommy Lewis said the other 150 are the result of good old-fashioned organic growth, primarily in its government program eligibility and payment integrity businesses. The company's revenues grew 5 percent to $286 million in the first quarter.