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Jon Talton

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

September 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM

Unemployment crept up in Seattle — but August was far worse in many metros

Top of the News: Unemployment in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area rose to 8.8 percent in August from 4.7 percent in the same month last year. It also increased 1 percentage point from July, according to today’s federal report. It’s a reminder of just how fast the Great Recession slammed into us.

Across the region, Longview turned in Washington’s worst performance, with 13.4 percent unemployment, while Kennewick-Pasco-Richland was best at 6.5 percent. In Oregon, metro Portland vaulted to 11.8 percent from August 2008’s 6.1 percent.

Nationally, unemployment rates were higher in all metros, with 16 posting rates of 15 percent or higher. Highest in the country: Detroit, at 17 percent. (The jobless rate nationally in August was 9.6 percent).

UPDATE: On a conference call this morning, Rutgers University professors James Hughes and Joseph Seneca discussed a gloomy, but unsurprising, new report that says the economy won’t recover all the jobs lost in the recession until 2017. You can download the report on “the new normal” here.

The Midweek Briefing: Communities with more “attached” residents will do better in the global economy. Gallup has been surveying people in 26 cities about what makes them love where they live. The top three: Openness, social offerings and aesthetics. You’d think we would have this one aced — but Seattle wasn’t one of the places surveyed (Neither was North Charleston, S.C.).

–Seattle ties Washington, D.C., as the top magnet city for hot young talent, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal. Portland is No. 4. Not on the list: exurban North Charleston, S.C.

–But we don’t have such leaders as Gov. Mark “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford, Sen. Jim “break Obama” DeMint and of course Rep. Joe Wilson. Boeing hasn’t made a final decision? “You lie!!”

–Remember my warning about how the interests of the status quo will try to sustain the unsustainable? Business Insider reports that UK authorities are concerned about a new housing bubble.

–Meanwhile, back home the Treasury says that banks made $5.2 billion trading derivatives in the second quarter. Some 1,100 banks, a 14 percent increase from last year, now trade in what Warren Buffet calls “financial weapons of mass destruction.” And you, dear taxpayer, are standing behind these casino bets.

–Postcards from the edge. Harvard Business Review reports that the 1.2 percent drop in hourly pay between October 2008 and January 2009 was the biggest percentage decline in more than half a century. Now you know why Chairman Ben was worried about deflation.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

S.C. in its heart

Never rejoined the union

Boeing goes global

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment, Midweek Economic Briefing


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