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Jon Talton

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

Topic: unemployment

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March 19, 2014 at 10:45 AM

State unemployment stays at 6.4 percent in February

But that’s not necessarily bad news. Washington added 2,500 net new jobs, according to preliminary data. January’s numbers were revised upward by 2,000 to a total of 5,800. Perhaps best of all, the labor force rose by 10,000 compared with the previous month. It is too early to tell if that marks a turnaround or stabilization…

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February 18, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Better unemployment rates for Seattle in December

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics came out today with the official snapshot of how the Puget Sound region’s unemployment rates stood in December. King County was lowest at 4.7 percent, a number that in normal times would be considered close to “full employment” by economists. Mason County, on the southwest edge of Puget Sound,…

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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,…

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January 16, 2014 at 10:31 AM

State’s payrolls haven’t fully recovered

Next Thursday, the state will report December’s unemployment and job creation. The national report earlier this month was a disappointment. But even if Washington appears to be doing better than most states, here’s the unsettling reality: As of November, the most recent month tracked, non-farm payrolls here had still not recovered to their pre-recession peak. More…

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October 22, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Why the jobs report is scary

The government’s report on September employment came out today, delayed by the shutdown. Although late, it is valuable because it gives us the last snapshot of the economy before the costly effects of House Republicans closing the government and playing chicken with national default. In other words, jobs reports for the rest of the year will not be better and are likely to be far worse.

The 148,000 net new jobs created were little more than the 125,000 or so needed to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force. Not only that, but the third quarter saw a significant deceleration in job creation. In the first quarter, payrolls rose an average 207,000 per month, including 211,000 in the private sector (government austerity continued to hurt the public sector). That slowed to an average 182,000 in the second quarter.

With September’s data, the third quarter shows the monthly average at 143,000. Not only that, but private-sector hiring dropped to an average 129,000.

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September 19, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Did that recovery feel good? Sorry it was so brief

We shouldn’t be too complacent about the rise in Seattle unemployment to 5.2 percent in August from 4.8 percent the month before. True, one month does not a trend make and there’s always “noise” in data. But, as the Seattle Times’ Amy Martinez reported, the metro area’s joblessness hasn’t risen four-tenths of a percentage…

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September 9, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Yes, the August jobs report was that bad

Friday’s jobs report was bad. Forget the unemployment rate falling to 7.3 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July. That was mostly the result of 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force. Labor force participation is its lowest since 1978, and while economists are divided on why it is happening — baby boomers retiring, people going on disability or staying in school, discourged workers who have stopped looking for a job — it is almost certainly not a healthy sign. There aren’t enough job openings. Most boomers are horribly prepared for retirement. This is a metric that almost certainly points to a lack of good jobs and slower growth.

The 169,000 jobs added must be measured against the 125,000 or so needed just to keep up with the natural growth in the labor force. Net new job growth has slowed since earlier in the year. Slipped into Friday’s report were revisions cutting the number of jobs added in June and July. Government jobs overall continue to be slashed, a stark contrast to other recoveries and a huge headwind for this one. Most jobs are being created in low-wage sectors. Part-time work is rising (and no, not mostly because of Obamacare).

The “jobs gap,” what is needed to get us back to 2008 employment levels, continues to be disastrous. See for yourself in the Hamilton Project’s calculator. There’s no end in sight to the jobs crisis.

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