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Jon Talton

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

Topic: Wages

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

October 6, 2014 at 10:21 AM

A different look at housing affordability, in two charts

Yes, most West Coast cities have crazy high housing costs and long has been the case. Seattle and Portland once were considered relatively affordable, but no more. Indeed,  housing affordability is a sore spot all over the country. Places with “cheap” rents and mortgages also pay poorly. It’s a real issue and calls for some creative…

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Comments | More in Housing, Income/wages | Topics: Housing affordability, Wages

August 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Behind the fast-food protests

Picketing to highlight low-wage fast food jobs and so-called wage theft are set to intensify today in Seattle, including a 4:30 p.m. demonstration at Westlake Park, according to the group Working Washington. Thousands of workers in New York and the Midwest have held one-day strikes this week and picketed such chains as McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, KFC and others,  seeking a $15 an hour wage instead of minimum wage or little better.

It’s not a surprising development considering the weak recovery, high unemployment, rising inequality and the large number of jobs in the restaurant industry — rising much faster than most other employment sectors — many of them paying low wages:

RestaurantFRED

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Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: fast food strikes, Wages, Working Washington

June 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM

State’s average wage hits $50,000, but…

Washington’s average annual wage reached $50,000 for the first time, a 3.4 percent increase, according to the state Employment Security Department. Weekly wages rose from $959 to $992. Three industries powered the growth: company management, up 17.6 percent; information, up 11.5 percent, and agriculture, up 11.5 percent. The department states, “Much of the increase was driven by a 6.1 percent increase in the number of insured workers earning more than $75,000.”

Putting this in context is more challenging. The data include only wages covered by unemployment insurance. It’s not clear whether it is adjusted for inflation. In 2009, Washington’s average wage was $47,470. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, that translates into about $50,800 of today’s dollars. The 2000 wage of $37,546 comes out as $50.060 today. Purchasing-power calculations would be a bit more complex, but the results would be largely the same. So while the nominal value of the state’s average wage has grown, real wages are flat even in the land of software geniuses and airplane builders and middle- and lower-income workers are especially strapped. This tracks with national figures going back for years.

BACK ON THE WATERFRONT: Tom Bellerud, the Port of Tacoma’s director of container terminal business, talked with Pierce County TV recently about how the Grand Alliance’s move  from Seattle to Tacoma last summer is going. Container traffic is up 35 percent, with the port gaining 400,000 TEUs, the standard industry measure, to 1.7 million in 2012.

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Comments | More in | Topics: Living standards, Wages