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Jon Talton

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

February 5, 2014 at 10:49 AM

A jobs struggle in much of the Northwest

The always insightful Josh Lehner at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has been following job creation over the past several years — the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009 — and the results for the Pacific Northwest show many of the same struggles seen nationwide.

As the chart below from Lehner’s blog shows, only Seattle has made up and exceeded its pre-recession employment numbers. This despite the fact that the two metros showed similar nosedives during the worst of the downturn (Portland going off the cliff a bit sooner).

pnwemployment_1213

Lehner expects Portland to make up its losses in the next couple of months (and cautions that the most recent numbers are subject to revision).

But below the large cities, a different story has played out. Oregon, with its heavy dependence on timber and durables manufacturing (and no Dreamliner cushion)  was more badly mauled than Washington. Medium-sized cities and rural areas in Washington started growing as early as 2011.

However, “today, the opposite is true of areas outside each state’s largest metro. Growth has slowed in Washington’s medium sized metros and rural areas while it has picked up strongly in Oregon’s — particularly Bend and Medford, although Salem has joined the party as well.”

It’s difficult to know exactly what’s caused the loss of momentum in much of Washington. The federal sequester, government austerity and uncertainty over the farm bill would be possible culprits.

And Don’t Miss: How much of the media bungled the story about Obamacare and job ‘losses’ | Beat the Press

Today’s Econ Haiku:

I love a parade

Thousands outside my window

Tackling work is tough

Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: Recovery, unemployment

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