Here’s the latest on the state economy. Everything’s coming up roses, it would seem.
Washington continued to defy the multiple drags on the U.S. economy in February, as state payrolls added 3,500 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent.
“We’re really different from the national economy at this point,” said Evelina Tainer, the state’s chief labor economist.
Few sectors illustrate that difference better than construction. Overall, the nation has lost 222,100 construction jobs over the past 12 months, as the collapsed boom in housing idled thousands of carpenters, roofers and drywallers.
But in Washington, construction continued to add jobs — 400 last month, and 1,600 since February 2007. Weakness in residential construction has been outweighed by robust nonresidential construction activity — office buildings, malls, factories and the like.
Much of the growth in construction jobs last month occurred in Eastern Washington, Tainer said. Two large projects, the nuclear-waste vitrification facility at Hanford and the expansion of a polysilicon plant near Moses Lake, together are employing hundreds of workers.
Job growth in Washington has been decelerating for several months; the average growth rate in 2007 was 2.5 percent. In the four-county Puget Sound region, year-over-year job growth in February was 2.1 percent, down from an average 2.8 percent last year.
Still, said Tainer, “Slow good news is better than bad news.”
Indeed. I don’t wish for our state to start shedding jobs, but it should be noted that despite the common myth to the contrary, overall job growth has little to no relation to home price increases or decreases.
We’ve covered this subject pretty thoroughly here before, and a present-day example can be seen down in San Diego, where employment is still growing (slowly), but prices are down nearly 20% from their peak as of December. Granted, if a local economy is in bad shape, it can definitely be reflected in an exceedingly crappy housing market (see Detroit), but the converse is clearly not always true.
(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 03.19.2008)