Boston Tech Hiring Cools, Despite More Expansion at Wayfair, Amazon

After more than a year of robust growth in payrolls at Boston-area software companies, local hiring cooled off in the third quarter.

Boston digital-tech firms added just 250 net new jobs in the most recent quarter—a paltry 1.1 percent increase in the total number of digital-tech employees from the previous quarter. That’s according to the latest study of local data compiled by John Barrett, a Boston-area partner with executive recruiting firm On Partners.

By comparison, the nearly 200 Boston-area companies tracked by Barrett added 900 net new jobs in the previous quarter (a 4.1 percent increase) and 780 net new jobs in the quarter before that (a 3.7 percent gain). The first two quarters of 2016 saw the Boston tech sector’s best hiring pace in the first half of a year since 2013. And last year, the local sector enjoyed its strongest annual hiring gains since Barrett began tracking the data in 2012.

That hot streak ended in the third quarter. Exclude the continued local hiring sprees by Wayfair and Amazon (see below), and the Boston-area tech sector would’ve seen its first quarterly staffing decrease since the study began in 2012, according to On Partners. Only 45 percent of the companies tracked increased their staffing levels in the most recent quarter, while 55 percent reduced employment or stayed the same.

The study also tracks New York tech hiring trends, and, like Boston, the Big Apple posted its worst third-quarter hiring numbers of the past five years. The 410 New York companies in the study added about 1,180 net new jobs, or a 2 percent gain. That was less surprising than Boston’s performance, as New York’s hiring has slowed over the past 15 months, On Partners said.

Still, “the severity of the third quarter slowdown was a little unexpected,” Barrett said in a prepared statement. “It’s hard to know if this was a brief aberration that will soon correct itself, if the election caused cold feet on the hiring front, and/or if the reported slowdown in early-stage VC investing has impacted hiring. The hiring data for Boston was especially concerning.”

The weaker hiring might also reflect the recent belt-tightening by some tech companies.

Barrett tracks data from software companies—primarily in consumer Web, small business software, advertising and marketing tech, and payments—that employ at least 10 people. His statistics are gathered by searching LinkedIn for the number of locally based employees working for those tech companies. That means the data are not comprehensive—some employees might not update their LinkedIn profiles in a timely fashion, or might not even have one. But Barrett has said his data are usually within 5 percent of official hiring numbers.

Below are the companies that hired the most people in Boston and New York in the third quarter. The numbers represent net new jobs at each firm.

Boston:

1. Wayfair: 198

2. Amazon: 93

3. HubSpot: 70

4. CarGurus: 36

5. Criteo: 29

6. PillPack: 26

7. Catalant: 23

8. DraftKings: 20

9. Disruptor Beam: 16

10. Blueport Commerce: 14

New York:

1. Amazon: 219

2. Google: 114

3. Spotify: 103

4. Blue Apron: 100

5. Yelp: 79

6. Compass: 75

7. Yext: 50

8. Facebook: 43

9. Indeed.com: 42

10. Etsy: 32

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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