As predicted, the slowing real estate market is beginning to affect other aspects of the economy in our state.
The monthly jobs report from the state Employment Security Department often is full of seemingly contradictory data, but May's report was even murkier than usual.I'll agree that overall the state economy is still in good health. But I can't help but think that this is just the beginning of a downward trend that will grow much larger than the optimists think. I really hope I'm wrong.
Beneath the confusing headline numbers, there's considerable evidence for a simple conclusion: Washington's surging economy — fueled in large part by the feverish real-estate market — is simmering down.
The 2,100 payroll jobs added in May, for instance, were the fewest since September 2005, when jobs actually fell. April's job gain was revised downward, to 3,900 from 5,200.
Since January, the state has added fewer jobs each month than the month before. On a quarterly basis the same trend holds true: After adding 41,100 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2005 and 33,300 jobs in the first three months of this year, Washington has grown by just 6,000 jobs so far this quarter.
No matter how you slice the numbers, though, the state's economy appears to be growing more slowly. A big reason, economists suspect, is the cooling of the Northwest housing market.
Statewide, the housing market in the first quarter was "basically flat" compared with the same period in 2005, said Glenn Crellin, director of Washington State University's Center for Real Estate Research.
The state's construction sector, which had added a revised 300 jobs in April and 8,500 jobs since the beginning of the year, lost 500 jobs last month — the first construction-jobs losses in a year. Real estate and rental leasing, however, gained 100 jobs in May, on top of the 200 gained in April.
Aerospace continued strong, adding 400 jobs last month and 6,600 over the past 12 months.
Professional, scientific and technical services — a hodgepodge category that includes lawyers, accountants, architects and computer-systems administrators — added 1,400 jobs in May and 6,100 over the past 12 months.
Growth in that category, [Evelina] Tainer [the Employment Security Department's chief economist] said, generally reflects the overall health of the state's economy.
(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 06.14.2006)