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Jon Talton

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

December 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Vote: Your job situation in Washington

Earlier this week, the state reported that November unemployment rose to 6.2 percent even though an average of 7,200 jobs have been created this year.  The reason given: More people are re-entering the improving labor market. There’s metro Seattle and there’s the rest of the state. Here a booming economy has driven unemployment down to…

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: Friday polls, Washington unemployment

December 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Here’s the ultimate weapon against communist Cuba

Oh, crap… — the ghost of Karl Marx. If the Cold War taught us anything, it is that doctrinaire communism can’t survive prolonged and intense exposure to capitalism. This is an important reason why President Obama has made a wise choice to normalize relations with Cuba. While our weapons were mighty and our resolve strong, one…

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Comments | More in Trade | Topics: Cuba relations, Trade

December 16, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Dangers of poking the bear

Russia is in recession. Not only that, but interests rates have risen to 17 percent as the central bank tries desperately to protect the free-falling ruble. Bank runs by the rich are siphoning out dollars and euros, although the central bank hasn’t yet unloaded dollars, which might help. One big problem facing Moscow is falling oil…

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Comments | More in Global economy | Topics: Nuclear weapons, Oil prices, Russian economy

December 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Vote: Should Obama veto the budget bill?

The budget bill began in shame, with Republicans demanding that Democrats give up clean water legislation and child nutrition in exchange for avoiding a government shutdown. It has degenerated into disgrace. Buried in the legislation is a provision that would begin gutting Dodd-Frank, the post-panic financial regulation bill that the financial industry has already weakened. Now,…

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: budget bill, Dodd-Frank, Pensions

December 11, 2014 at 7:53 AM

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks shift to D.C.

Meetings resumed this week among 12 nations pursuing the huge and hugely controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, this time in D.C. where they have been met by at least some protests. To briefly recap: TPP has been pursued by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations (although the United States joined the talks after they…

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Comments | More in Trade | Topics: NAFTA, Trade, Trans-Pacific Partnership

December 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Amazon workers have an answer: a union

It was always a stretch, Amazon workers suing to be compensated for waits to go through security screening at the end of their shifts. And, sure enough, a unanimous Supreme Court turned them down, citing a 1947 law. The case involved 400,000 plaintiffs. Sure, the high court especially and lower courts generally have favored business in…

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Comments | More in Amazon.com, Labor unions | Topics: Amazon.com, Unions

December 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

The slick slope of dropping oil prices

Oil prices have fallen almost 40 percent since June. This morning, light sweet crude futures for January were trading around $63.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent traded around $66.41. The shorthand for this phenomenon is: great for (and I hate this word) consumers, bad for Putin’s Russia and other oil-producing states…

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Comments | More in Energy | Topics: debt, fracking, Oil prices

December 5, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Vote: Is the jobs crisis finally over?

The economy added a very solid 321,000 jobs in November, even though the unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent. Economist Jared Bernstein smooths out the trend with a monthly average 278,000 jobs created over the past three months and 228,000 over the past year. Hours improved and labor force participation, which has fallen dramatically…

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: unemployment

December 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Washington’s long road back to employment, in charts

The damage from the Great Recession isn’t over, not by a long shot. It will linger for years, even in booming Seattle. But Washington is doing much better on the employment front, particularly if the seeming stall in job growth from late summer doesn’t reemerge. Here’s how we got there. 1. The unemployment rate has steadily…

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Comments | More in | Topics: Seattle economy, Seattle unemployment, Washington economy

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