According to the latest data, it looks like the state economy is slowly catching up to the unwinding national economy.
More than 3,000 jobs were lost in Washington last month, pushing the unemployment rate to 4.9 percent, up from a near record low of 4.5 percent in February, the Employment Security Department said Tuesday.
The change is statistically significant, because it lies outside of the margin of error, the state’s chief economist, Evelina Tainer, said.
Half of the jobs lost, or about 1,500, were in the Seattle region, she said. That makes sense because the Seattle region accounts for about half of the jobs in Washington.
The leisure and hospitality sector lost 1,200 jobs. Transportation, warehousing and utilities jobs declined by 700, and construction lost 500.
“We were surprised at the strength of construction in most of 2007,” Tainer said. “We are now starting to see a consistent drop.”
I don’t think that a consistent drop in construction employment should come as a surprise to anyone.
Here’s some additional commentary from the Times’ story:
…nonfarm employers shed 3,200 payroll jobs in March, the first monthly decline since September 2007; most economic sectors posted declines. And the 3,500-job gain for February that was reported last month was revised down to a more modest 1,300-job increase.
All in all, the March jobs report showed Washington’s jobs engine downshifting into first gear. But Employment Security economist Evelina Tainer said she didn’t think the state was necessarily heading into reverse.
“I think we’re going to see a few months where things are very sluggish, but I’m still not convinced we’re due for a recession in the state,” Tainer said.
Let’s not forget that official state policy appears to be “close your eyes, plug your ears, and wish your problems away,” as laid out from the top by Christine Gregoire.