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August 14, 2007

Microsoft, employment and property, by the local numbers

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:30 PM

Microsoft just updated its "Fast Facts" page, which is where it provides more precise data on how many full-time employees it has in Washington state. General information about the company's employment growth during the past fiscal was first delivered at the company's Financial Analyst Meeting in July. Additional details were in its annual report, filed with the SEC Aug. 3.

But this is the first look at the latest numbers that describe the company's local economic impact. (The measure still misses some presumably large number of outside contractors and vendors that make the business run.)

As of July 27, Microsoft counted 35,711 employees in the state, up 7.1 percent from the level reported a year ago. In the rest of the U.S., Microsoft had 12,225 employees, up 11.5 percent, from late-July 2006. Total worldwide employment in that period increased 10.6 percent to 79,136.

I wrote a story looking at the numbers and the reasons why Microsoft's employment growth locally is slower than it is overseas.

Here are a couple of other factoids that didn't make it in that story:

The figures reveal an aging U.S. workforce at Microsoft. The average age of Microsoft's U.S. employees was 36.6 in 2006, and 36 in 2005. At the latest report, the average age was 36.9 and more than 16,194 employees -- a third of the U.S. work force -- was over 40.

The gender distribution remains heavily weighted toward men, who represented three-quarters of the company's U.S. work force.

Even at a somewhat slower growth rate, the company is still hungry for local real estate. And the latest numbers show the company has shifted to leasing a substantially larger proportion of its property in the region.

The company had 11.2 million square feet of office space in Puget Sound as of Aug. 1. That's an increase of about 2.9 percent from last year. But the increase in leased office space is 18.6 percent and, now, more than one-quarter of its local portfolio is leased, up from 22 percent last year.

That balance could shift even more. It's not clear whether these figures include all or part of the 1.3 million square feet of new office space committed to lease in Bellevue earlier this year.

At the time of that announcement, Chris Owens, Microsoft's general manager of real estate and facilities, was asked whether the company was favoring leased property instead of new construction to meet its expansion needs.

"It's not a long-term change in strategy," he said at the time. "I think some of the leasing that we did over the past year, we would view as more short-term and temporary leases not necessarily long-term additions to our portfolio."

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Tricia Duryee
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