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Jon Talton

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

April 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM

New state economist expects Washington to outpace national recovery

Last week, Arun Raha, the state’s new chief economist, spoke at Washington State University, predicting that Washington is coming out of the Great Recession and the economy should “gain traction” by the middle of the year.

The headwinds: commercial real estate, problem regional banks, joblessness and tentative consumer confidence. The latter two especially will affect state revenues. Small businesses are still having trouble getting credit.

On the upside are exports and stability in aerospace and software. Employment growth and personal income are expected to outpace the nation (Washington gained 1,600 jobs in March, the second gain in three months). Single-family housing is improving, but mostly because of the first-time buyer tax credit.

“Economic activity has been recovering steadily since last August, but we are only now beginning to add jobs,” he said. “The jobs recovery faces many headwinds and will be slow. So will the recovery in state revenues, although consumers are beginning to open up their wallets again.” Bottom line: “We expect the state to outperform the nation in the recovery.”

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Lusty Lady gone

One more downtown icon lost

Nicely done, Kerry

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