The last time we checked in on unemployment data for the Seattle area, local data was rapidly catching up to national stats, with statewide unemployment jumping from 4.7 percent in April to 5.3 percent in May, and Seattle-area unemployment bumping up seven-tenths of a percent to 4.1 percent.
Well, it didn’t take long for Washington to catch up with the nation.
Unemployment in Washington state last month jumped to its highest level in 3 1/2 years, as job seekers surged into an economy that is having trouble generating enough new jobs for them.
The state jobless rate was 5.7 percent in July, up from a revised 5.4 percent in June (it was originally reported at 5.5 percent), according to figures released today. Washington now has the same jobless rate as the United States as a whole, after 13 straight months of outperforming the nation.
The state’s economy gained 3,300 payroll jobs in July, after losing a downward-revised 1,800 jobs in June. July was the fifth straight month of little to no change in the nonfarm payroll figures, suggesting that Washington’s jobs engine is stuck in first gear.
In the Seattle metro area, the unemployment rate rose to 4.3 percent last month from 3.9 percent. About 8,500 people reported entering the labor force in July, but only 1,800 of them found work right away.
When/if our unemployment rate reaches 5 or 6 percent, I wonder if local real estate agents will still be extolling the virtues of our “strong employment” that “holds up the local housing market?” Or maybe they will start to realize that the strong housing market has been at least partly responsible for holding up the area’s strong employment.
(Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times, 08.12.2008)
Update: Here’s a more in-depth article from Drew DeSilver in today’s Times.