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Jon Talton

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

October 7, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Unemployment numbers are even weaker than they appear

One piece of decent news in the labor market comes from Seattle-based Payscale, which tracks the change in wages of employed Americans workers, showing trends in compensation for jobs over time. Nationally, the trend continues to be flat to weak.

But Seattle, with a 1.9 percent rise in the 12 months ending in the third quarter, led the 20 metros surveyed. Only six showed gains of 1 percent or more. High tech and energy predominate. In addition to metro Seattle, they are: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont; Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land; Boston-Cambridge-Quincy; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington.

As to today’s September unemployment report, the pain continues. The gain of 103,000 jobs is not enough to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force and includes 45,000 Verizon workers returning from strike. The average duration of unemployment hit its highest-ever recorded level, at 40.5 weeks. The U-6 broadest level of unemployment ticked up to 16.5 percent from 16.2 percent.

Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute predicts at the current rate unemployment will soon rise, even from the “official” rate of 9.1 percent. The real job gain in September of 58,000 is “in line with the dismal average of the last four months, which was 64,000, and that was a slowdown from the not-doing-much-more-than-keeping-up-with-population-growth average of 123,000 of the prior 14 months.”

The Week’s Links:

  • Soaring numbers of middle class are exempt from federal income tax || Detroit Free Press
  • Retailers face reality that many shoppers can’t trade back up || Wall Street Journal
  • Obama is upside down on trade || Clyde Prestowitz/Foreign Policy
  • Debt and dumb || Vanity Fair
  • Climate change to affect wine-growing regions || USA Today
  • Our one-sided trade war with China || Washington Post
  • Dexia bank’s collapse and the European financial crisis || Stratfor
  • The leading nations for innovation and technology || Atlantic Cities
  • Today’s Econ Haiku:

    You can bet that if

    There’s an iPad in heaven

    Steve’s improving it

    Comments | More in Income/living standards, Jobs/Unemployment

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