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Jon Talton

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

Category: Jobs/Unemployment
July 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM

How part-time work is growing

Below is a chart that only an econ geek could love, but hang with me. I’ll give you a lollypop: It represents an attempt by economists John Robertson and Ellyn Terry of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to get a handle on the state of part-time employment in America in the wake of the recession….

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June 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM

A reality check on jobs

After Friday’s report that the nation had added 217,000 jobs in May, it was widely reported that we had finally recovered all the jobs lost from the Great Recession. That downturn officially ended in June 2009. Unfortunately, this is not true. The labor force has grown since the collapse began in 2007, so we’re…

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April 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

No, the jobs hole hasn’t been filled

With last Friday’s report that the economy added 192,000 jobs, we have now technically recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. We’re back to 2008 levels of private-sector employment. You get a gold star if you said, “but it’s not 2008.” That’s the important “but” that should be in all the headlines. The working-age population…

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: Seattle economy

January 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Vote: The economy in 2014

It’s a tough day to ask for your prediction for the new year. December saw only 74,000 jobs added to U.S. payrolls, far below what is needed merely to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force (around 125,000). Worse, it brought the average monthly growth for the year to 182,000 vs. 183,000 in 2012.

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: 2014 predictions

November 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Minimum wage: Today SeaTac, tomorrow the nation?

Well, no. If the trend holds and SeaTac voters approve a $15-per-hour minimum wage, it will be very hard to translate this victory into a national movement.

SeaTac is a tiny municipality with only 12,000 registered voters. It has a large number of low-wage restaurant and hotel businesses that are captive to their proximity to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They will have little choice but to pay the new wage.

For that same reason, SeaTac won’t likely be a useful laboratory to examine the unintended consequences that critics warned about, or the benefits that supporters claim.

Enacting the wage in a city such as Seattle would be much more difficult, even though Mayor-elect Ed Murray has paid lip service to it. Business community resistance would be fierce and potent. And businesses would have more options: Move, close, cut back hours and refuse to hire the least-skilled workers.

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Comments | More in Inequality, Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: minimum wage, SeaTac vote

October 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Six key signs to watch for job improvement

Earlier this month, Mary Daly and Bart Hobijn of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published a paper examining the unemployment situation. It was not quite as gloomy as one might expect.

After looking at 30 economic indicators, they argue that six are most important to predicting whether the labor market is healing: The insured unemployment rate, initial claims for unemployment benefits, capacity utilization, the jobs gap, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, and private-payroll employment growth.

The “jobs gap” comes from the Conference Board and measures the percentage of households that say jobs are easy to get vs. those that say they are difficult to land.

In general, according to Daly and Hobijn, the six are doing well and might point to better conditions ahead.

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October 24, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Slight improvement: 2.9 workers for every job

Economists pay close attention to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The so-called JOLTS report gives the clearest indication of how many job-seekers are chasing the available positions. The August report came out this morning, and shows that for the first time in five years the ratio is below 3 to 1. It’s not much of an improvement, but 2.9 people are seeking every available job.

According to labor economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, the August numbers overstate the improvement because at least 5 million have dropped out of the workforce because of the weak economy. “These “missing workers” are thus not counted as unemployed, but many will become job seekers when a robust jobs recovery finally begins, so job openings will be needed for them, too.”

Not only that, but the ratio is nearly as high as the worst month of the 2001 recession. And no sector has as many or more openings as unemployed workers. “There are between 1.3 and 9.8 times as many unemployed workers as job openings in every industry.”

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: federal employment, Job openings

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