Since the housing market is so closely related to whether people can find decent jobs, here is the latest in our continuing series on Washington State employment statistics. Things are looking up... sort of.
Washington's jobs picture was mixed in July, and revised data shows that the first half of 2006 wasn't quite as red-hot as first appeared.8,700 new jobs is definitely better than the previous six months. However, it's interesting to see exactly where those 8,700 jobs are coming from (and where jobs are leaving):
The state added 8,700 jobs last month, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Employment Security Department, but the unemployment rate edged up to 5.3 percent from 5.1 percent in June.
Evelina Tainer, chief economist for the department's Labor Market and Economic Analysis branch, said the increase in the jobless rate wasn't statistically significant. But since the rate was as low as 4.6 percent as recently as March, it's worth watching.
Instead of the 6,900-job average monthly gain that had been previously reported, Washington actually added an average 5,400 payroll jobs each month between January and June.
"On the whole, I think the numbers are still looking pretty good," Tainer said.
Wholesale and retail trade in the state showed the biggest job drops last month, respectively losing 800 and 1,000 jobs, since June.The P-I offers some additional analysis:
Education, both public and private, posted the strongest gains in the month, a total of 6,200 jobs. However, Tainer questioned whether that was due more to the quirks of the seasonal-adjustment process than real growth, noting that those same sectors lost 6,400 jobs in June.
Statewide, professional and business services, something of a catchall category for white-collar jobs, added 2,200 jobs in July, with most of the gains coming in managerial, administrative and support jobs.
Construction, which has been one of the mainstays of the state's economy, lost 2,000 jobs last month, due entirely to declines in the heavy and civil-engineering sector.
In King and Snohomish counties, though, 3,000 construction jobs were added in July, and manufacturing added another 1,300 jobs.
The largest job growth occurred in government (up 4,200 jobs), education and health services (3,100 jobs) and professional and business services (2,200 jobs).So disregarding the odd fluctuation in education, we're really only talking about a net 1,500 jobs. Not exactly an economy to write home about. However, there is definitely some ammunition in there for the Seattle is Special™ crowd, what with construction jobs decreasing statewide (by around 5,000 jobs!) but increasing in King & Snohomish. I also notice a distinct failure to mention what's going on with jobs related to real estate. Presumably they were mostly flat last month. Particularly interesting to me is that retail is floundering. Perhaps the housing ATM is drying up, even here in Washington?
Retail trade lost 1,000 jobs, financial services lost 300 and information lost 200.
Whichever way you slice it, it's pretty difficult to skew these numbers to fit a "Seattle's economy is booming" argument. I think at best, we're treading water right now.
(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 08.15.2006 )
(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 08.16.2006)
(Dan Richman, Seattle P-I, 08.16.2006)