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Jon Talton

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

December 19, 2012 at 1:25 PM

The trouble with Washington’s unemployment rate

The state jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in November, the first time since January 2009 when the yardstick was below 8 percent. What’s not to like? Just this: The entire state added a mere 1,600 jobs. By contrast, Arizona, devastated by the housing crash, added 11,900 jobs in October, the latest reported number.

As my colleague Sanjay Bhatt reports, the state says 13,600 people left the workforce in November. The reasons are probably varied but unknown. Some may be baby boomers who are retiring. Others, perhaps the majority given national studies, have stopped checking in at the unemployment office or Web site because they can’t find a job. These are the so-called discouraged workers.

In the third quarter of 2012, Washington posted one of the worst U-6 unemployment rates in the nation, 17.1 percent. U-6 measures the “officially” unemployed, plus part-time employees who want but can’t find fulltime employment, as well as discouraged workers.

The high U-6 rates run the spectrum of economic diversity or lack thereof, as well as state taxation and regulation policies. For example, Oregon is 17.3 percent; North Carolina, 17 percent; South Carolina, 16.3 percent; Nevada, 21.4 percent; California, 19.6 percent. The broad measure of unemployment for the nation is 15 percent. Meanwhile, according to the Brookings Institution, Seattle ranked 56th out of 100 metros in unemployment change from the trough of the recession through the third quarter of 2012.

So we continue to have a jobs crisis. Not a debt crisis. Not a deficit crisis. A jobs crisis. And policymakers remain strikingly silent about it.

And Don’t Miss: How the fossil-fuels industry influences state legislatures || Checks and Balances Project

Today’s Econ Haiku:

We face many cliffs

Fiscal, climate, empire, jobs

Got a spare piton?

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