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Jon Talton

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

March 5, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Construction employment still in a deep hole

As of December, more than 142,000 people worked in construction in Washington. While that is an improvement over the 135,400 at its lowest recent level in 2011, it is far from the peak of 211,600 in June 2007. The December numbers are in line with the summer of 2008 and even lower than the post-Great Recession high of 144,900 last June. The numbers are seasonally adjusted.

fredgraph

The chart above, from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, shows the effects of the bubble and its aftermath. Even though it seems as if cranes are all over central Seattle, the jobs largely haven’t come back.

Washington is hardly alone. Oregon has 72,500 working in construction vs. more than 105,000 in the summer of 2007. Arizona, one of the hotbeds of sprawl housing during the bubble and whose economy is heavily dependent on construction, employed more than 244,000 in the spring of 2006; last December the number was a little more than 123,000.

As construction remains one of the relatively few blue-collar jobs that can’t be offshored, this graphic is one more piece of the problem of rising income inequality.

Interestingly, the state Employment Security Department reported today that based on its annual “benchmarking” adjustment of data, Washington has made up the jobs lost in the Great Recession. Previous data set job losses at 205,000 jobs from February 2008 through February 2010. The number is now believed to be 189,000. Net job gains through January are 193,000. Also, the largest gains in January came in construction, up 2,500.

It’s still a long way to go.

And Don’t Miss: How big a mess is Ryan’s report on poverty? Scholars say, very big | LA Times

Today’s Econ Haiku:

For Tsar Vladimir

Chicken Kiev on his plate

But it’s all just gas

Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: construction, employment

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