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Jon Talton

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

December 21, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Recession’s drag and joblessness seen in latest compensation report

The drag of the Great Recession continues to be seen in paychecks — or lack thereof — as the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2009 numbers on compensation today. King County total comp fell 2.9 percent from the previous year, even though average compensation per job rose 2.5 percent. The reason: Employment declines more than offset the gains in the remaining jobs.

Nationally, total compensation contracted by 3.2 percent in 2009, with a 1.2 percent increase per-job to $56,962. The number was down 3.7 percent in large counties, with the worst fall being 15.9 percent in the city of St. Louis. Among job classifications, professional, scientific and technical services gained the most: 10.7 percent. Construction, durable goods manufacturing and finance — although obviously not among the swells on Wall Street — saw the biggest drops.

Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada saw compensation fall in 125 out of 183 counties. Among the worst: Crook County, Ore., down 12.5 percent. Santa Clara County in California, home to Silicon Valley, experienced a 5.6 percent total decline. In most cases, individual compensation rose slightly, but the total number was offset by employment losses. And unlike the nation, the far west felt drops in comp for professional, scientific, and technical services jobs.

Other tidbits: Columbia County, Ore., saw the biggest contraction at 9.4 percent, while the largest growth occurred in Benton County, Wash., 8.2 percent. Benton, located in south-central Washington, is dependent on agriculture and wine making (plus, as a reader pointed out, the Hanford Site and its government money). Comp-per-job rose 3.5 percent in Spokane County, but total comp was off 1.4 percent.

Elsewhere around the Sound: Snohomish County clocked in with a 1.9 percent decline (average comp per job increased 3,4 percent), and Pierce County, with its heavy defense presence, grew 0.4 percent (3.8 percent increase per job).

Today’s Econ Haiku:

HP, over Hurd

There might be a wee problem

Ah, time wounds all heels

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment

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