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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 27, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Washington’s unusual unemployment trend

One month does not a trend make. But when the state preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in December, it constituted an undeniable turning point. But to what? First the data. Washington’s Great Recession unemployment rate topped out at 10.2 percent in the first three months of 2010. (This was a better showing…


Comments | More in | Topics: Washington unemployment

January 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy

I’m in. But not everybody else is. One reader was outraged that taxpayer-funded buses have “Go Hawks!” on their destination boards. And it’s easy to paraphrase Gen. Smedley Butler’s comment about war: Pro sports are a racket. Rich owners, operating in monopoly leagues, get millions from the public to build lavish stadiums under threat of moving…


Comments | More in Sports business | Topics: Pro sports, Seahawks, Sonics

January 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM

Imagining Seattle in 2030

Much of the conversation lately has focused on how newcomers are changing Seattle (even if that has been the case for much of the city’s history). There are legitimate concerns about how fast population growth — combined with globalized hypercapitalism — will change the character and authenticity of the place. And impose big costs. I…


Comments | More in | Topics: Seattle growth, Seattle population

January 21, 2015 at 10:02 AM

Housing starts still seeking new normal

The quick briefing today is that  housing starts rose 4.4 percent in December. Separate out single-family houses and they increased 7.2 percent from the previous month. Both numbers show the market continues to recover. But here’s the context: In other words, these may be the best numbers since 2008, but the crash was already well…


Comments | More in Housing | Topics: Housing starts, Seattle housing

January 20, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Obama, inequality and taxes

Whatever President Obama proposes in tonight’s State of the Union address will go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress. But he will attempt to use the bully pulpit to acknowledge and, to some degree, propose a way out of the worst inequality since the Gilded Age. Two years of free community college can’t hurt. Falling educational attainment…


Comments | Topics: inequality, State of the Union speech

January 14, 2015 at 11:01 AM

If we wanted to worry about the economy…

NOTE TO READERS: This is the second in an occasional look at the factors driving volatility in the market this year. For the first installment, click here. Americans are an optimistic lot. Climate change? Hey, maybe it’s not real and if it is, we won’t be hurt! A completely destabilized Middle East? Hey, my gasoline…


Comments | More in Economy | Topics: Consumer spending, deflation, Oil prices

January 13, 2015 at 10:38 AM

Seattle No. 11 in best-performing cities report

Take heart, ye boom fatigued. Seattle fell out of the top 10 of the latest Best Performing Cities report from the Milken Institute. It ranks No. 11 for 2014 vs. No. 6 the previous year. San Francisco came in first, followed by Austin, Provo-Orem, Utah, Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle. Tech centers accounted for 13…


Comments | More in | Topics: City rankings, Northwest economy, Seattle economy

January 12, 2015 at 10:42 AM

Tracking Oregon’s recovery, in one chart

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has produced this nifty chart to track how the state has recovered from the depths of the Great Recession using 39 separate indicators. As the chart shows, Oregon has recovered 100 percent in such areas as total jobs, state gross domestic product and exports. On the other hand, like…


Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: Oregon economy, Oregon unemployment

January 9, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Vote: How can Congress help the economy

The Republicans that have commanding control of the new Congress hold strong views on the economy. Among them is a conviction that taxes always must be cut and pay for themselves. That regulations must be altered to favor business. That what they consider excesses infringing on “economic freedom” — from the New Deal, Great Society…


Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Friday polls, GOP Congress, Keystone XL

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