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Jon Talton

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

June 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Washington’s weak jobs recovery

For all the good ways we like to differentiate ourselves — exports! tech! Boeing! Microsoft! Amazon! Starbucks! — Washington is not immune to the tragic slow recovery of jobs from the Great Recession. On Thursday, the state reported that 4,000 net new jobs had been created in May. Unfortunately, that compares poorly to the revised 8,900 in April.

One month does not a trend make. But the trend you see below, which looks at the month-over-month percentage change in jobs, shows that Washington has backslid from the fairly good trajectory seen last spring. We are now barely outperforming the nation and have been overtaken by Oregon, which suffered much bigger job losses in the Great Recession.

NonfarmPayrolls

The chart brings into sharp relief how recoveries in general have been slower and weaker in generating jobs since the 1990s. Nationally, fewer new jobs were created in the 2000s than any time since the Hoover administration. Washington has tended to outperform, even if it gets going a little later in the business cycle.

This time, almost exactly five years into the recovery, Washington’s performance is much more muted.

Idle Observation: If you have not read the Q&A between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and my colleague Jay Greene, you must. Do it now. Bezos rarely talks to reporters, even at his Washington Post, and his answers are fascinating on many levels. But — let’s just say it — with only a little editing, he could be the Yoda of business. E.g., “An idea, our development process always starts with. Differentiated, it has to be.” For the sake of Seattle’s economy, let the force be with him.

Thursday Reading: What do high-paid and low-paid workers have in common? Weekends at work | BusinessWeek

Today’s Econ Haiku:

No Mars shot, fast trains

No universal health care

Smart phones, here’s one more

 

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