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Jon Talton

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

June 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Seattle’s economy: Strong growth, weak job creation || Updated

UPDATE: On Thursday, I wrote about a new Brookings Institution report on how metropolitan areas fared in the first quarter. Seattle had been listed in the 20 strongest-growing metros. But it’s not. A re-calculation issued today shows Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue as performing in the second-strongest tier of metros, not the first. That top cohort includes Chicago, Columbus, Charlotte, Dallas, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, as well as Akron, Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio. Auto industry areas did well. Portland is among the middle group, not the weakest as Brookings originally reported. The relatively weaker growth may go some ways to explaining the continued anemic jobs growth here.

Seattle was still among the metros that had made a complete output recovery from the Great Recession. It was also among the relative few that saw growth without a significant increase in government jobs. Nationally, “the metropolitan areas with the strongest economic recoveries typically gained government jobs during the recovery, while those with the weakest recoveries lost them.”

Put this together with other data, including Wednesday’s report that Washington enjoyed the eighth-best growth in personal income, and the recovery sends mixed signals. Growth is happening. Job growth is weak.

Only 12 out of 100 metros gained back more than half of the jobs lost from their pre-recession peaks to the downturn’s low point, Seattle not among them. Nor was it among the 20 metros, which included Cleveland and Youngstown, that gained jobs all of the previous four quarters. “Seventy-seven of the 100 largest metropolitan areas lost a greater share of jobs 13 quarters after the start of the Great Recession (the fourth quarter of 2007) than they did during the first 13 quarters after the start of any of the previous three national recessions,” the report stated. It didn’t go into the quality of the jobs that are being created.

It was a jobless recovery in the first quarter. And that was before things started to slow down — today’s reports include higher unemployment claims and falling new-house sales, knocking the Dow back below 12,000.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Legarde, IMF

But what policies will change?

It’s so very French

Comments | More in Great Recession, Jobs/Unemployment, Recovery

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