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Jon Talton

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

June 16, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Don’t expect a big jobs comeback soon in Washington state

Two-hundred jobs. That’s how many net new positions the private sector added in Washington state last month. The biggest gain came from temporary federal Census jobs.

This isn’t a sustainable jobs recovery. Real hiring is not keeping pace with the natural growth of the labor force, much less creating enough new jobs with good wages and benefits.

Moody’s Economy.com forecasts that Washington will see a 0.6 percent decline in jobs this year before growth of 1.9 percent in 2011. For Oregon: a loss of 0.8 percent in 2010, growth of 1.7 percent next year; Idaho: – 0.3 and +2.0. The region is hardly alone. The United States is expected to see contraction of 0.4 percent before a 2011 gain of 1.5 percent. And this is way more percentages than any editor ever taught me to cram into one paragraph.

All this assumes a continuing “recovery.” Such is the new normal where Washington will do relatively better than most states. Former growth hotspots such as Nevada and Arizona are expected to lose 2.8 percent and 1.3 percent in annualized employment this year.

About the best that can be said is that the unemployment situation has stabilized, with most real new hiring happening in the Northeast and Midwest. But long-term unemployment and joblessness among young people and minorities, older workers and less-educated workers, all remain. Has this gone from being a cyclical issue to a structural imbalance that will persist for years, with government too paralyzed to address it? If so, it will be one of the biggest drags on real recovery.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

BP’s top execs

(They own the place already)

Touring the White House

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment

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