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Jon Talton

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

March 21, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Improving jobs picture still leaving out millions

Washington created 4,200 jobs in February, helping lower the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent. Private-sector employment has now grown in the state for 24 consecutive months. Still, as the Seattle Times‘ Sanjay Bhatt reports, the improvement will likely mean a reduction in the duration of benefits for those still jobless.

That’s bad. The labor market remains deeply wounded from the Great Recession. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the 3 million jobs created since the end of the downturn have just barely kept up with population growth, much less made up for the steep losses of 2008-2009. Hispanics and Asians have seen the most growth, reflecting their increasing numbers in the general population, whites and African-Americans have seen less. Also, foreign-born workers are experiencing faster job growth than native-born workers.

The recession itself was especially hard on men. Now the recovery, such as it is, is hard on women. “Women represent the only group for whom employment growth has lagged behind population growth in the recovery,” the report states. “Job cutbacks by federal, state and local governments is one reason women have lagged behind men in recent years, but a previous analysis by the Center found that much about this phenomenon remains unclear.” Indeed, Washington continued to lose government jobs in February.

Are the new jobs of high quality? The lower growth in wages suggests not. Another red flag is the number of “voluntary quits,” which remain quite low. As a result, it’s far too soon to declare victory against unemployment. Continued government cutbacks will be a drag. And any shock from Europe, China or higher oil prices could slow or reverse the trend.

And Don’t Miss: The hidden costs for society when everything is for sale || The Atlantic

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Joe sings Howard’s praise

Nocera’s no Sonics fan

Thus no bitter taste

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

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