Seattle Employment Running on All Cylinders

Let’s have a look at the jobs data for November and how the Seattle area’s unemployment rate and approximate labor participation rate alongside the national numbers.

Unemployment & Labor Participation

Since dropping below 5 percent in June, the Seattle area’s unemployment rate has been relatively steady at 4.7-4.8 percent. November’s 4.7 percent unemployment rate wasthe same level unemployment was at in August 2008. The national unemployment rate is still a bit higher at 5.8 percent, roughly on-par with mid-2008.

The Seattle-area labor participation continues to hold steady around 70 percent, the same level it’s been at for almost all of 2014. November’s level was 70.1 percent. The national labor force participation rate has also been relatively stable, but quite a bit lower, coming in at 62.8 percent for November. Since 2011 the Seattle-area labor participation rate has held relatively steady, while the national level has fallen about a point.

For reference, in 2006 when everyone imagined the economy to be in great health, the local unemployment rate averaged 4.3% and the labor participation rate averaged 69.5%. In other words, in terms of employment, the Seattle area economy is in great shape.

Here’s a look at the local and national unemployment rates with Washington’s statewide rate thrown in as well.

Seattle-Area Unemployment Rate

Washington State has slipped over the last few months, and is now performing worse than the nation as a whole.

Sources:

Seasonally adjusted series used for all data sets.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.

21 comments:

  1. 1

    Seattle Unemployment is Still Higher Than Low Real Estate Prices Kansas City

    And getting a job in Kansas City is very difficult, especially one that doesn’t fizzle out quick, like Christmas sales. My advice is grab up even a hamburger flipping job in Seattle if you’re an unemployed Millennial….even if you have a college degree [if they’ll hire you, they may not]. Once you get in work hard and go for assistant manager, then regional manager [around $50K/yr with benefits BTW]….you could do that at Wal-Mart too, but COSTCO pays a lot better and benefits too. In other words go where there’s berries to pick and don’t be picky. Persistence pays off.

    With 30% of the aerospace engineering work leaving Seattle from Boeing Defense I’d recommend engineers flock to commercial jobs [if you can] now, before the rush next year. If they transfer you to Everett I hope you’re renting [and you can move easily] or the commute may be horrifying. Its going to be a new paradigm in two years around here with the Boeing and Microsoft “belt tightening”.

  2. 2
    Blurtman says:

    Interesting, but somewhat lacking in meaningfulness without also reporting on wages.

    For example,

    “After adjusting for inflation in consumer prices, earnings of women have changed very little over the past decade, while earnings of men have drifted down slightly.”

    http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140423.htm

  3. 3
    Shoeguy says:

    If everyone in Seattle was given a $9 an hour job (whoops, $15, haha), then the unemployment rate would be 0% and everyone could buy a house!

  4. 4
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Shoeguy @ – Asset inflation (homes included) plus flat and decreasing earnings = ?

  5. 5
    boater says:

    By Blurtman @ :

    RE: Shoeguy @ – Asset inflation (homes included) plus flat and decreasing earnings = ?

    I’m not sure how a 67% pay raise equals decreasing earning for the minimum wage worker.

    RE: Kansas City. I’m not surprised it’s got a low unemployment rate. It’s had a near constant population for 25 years. That tends to let things reach equilibrium. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Kansas City but it’s not my first choice of places to live. I mean if i want to live cheap I’d move to Thailand or somewhere similar.

  6. 6
    Blurtman says:

    RE: boater @ – “I’m not sure how a 67% pay raise equals decreasing earning for the minimum wage worker.”

    That pay raise will fuel rising equities and RE values!

  7. 7

    By boater @ :

    By Blurtman @ :

    RE: Shoeguy @ – Asset inflation (homes included) plus flat and decreasing earnings = ?

    I’m not sure how a 67% pay raise equals decreasing earning for the minimum wage worker.

    $15 an hour times zero hours equals $0.00 in earnings.

  8. 8
    m-s says:

    Never underestimate greed. If somebody sees the profit in selling overpriced lattes, greed will lead them to pay $15/hr to baristas to do it if they must, never fear. 0 hours of work for the baristo/a is 0 dollars of profit for his/her boss.

  9. 9

    By m-s @ :

    Never underestimate greed. If somebody sees the profit in selling overpriced lattes, greed will lead them to pay $15/hr to baristas to do it if they must, never fear. 0 hours of work for the baristo/a is 0 dollars of profit for his/her boss.

    I’m not saying all the jobs will go away for everyone. But for some that will be the reality. And for others they will be displaced by “better” employees from other cities seeking the higher wages, or increased automation.

    But bottom line is that we will not see a 67% increase in earnings for the group currently making minimum wage.

  10. 10
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ – But there is always a flux of folks entering and exiting a particular economic stratum, no? Automation is coming either way, but perhaps the cost/benefit analysis has now changed. I say shake it up. Stasis is death.

  11. 11

    RE: Blurtman @ – Yes, people will move around, but the last thing people in the low end need is more competition for their jobs. And automation comes based on the price of labor, so a huge increase in the price of labor will really speed things up.

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m not against minimum wage laws. I just think that the idea of a $15 minimum wage is simplistic to the point of being moronic.

  12. 12
    boater says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    RE: Blurtman @ – Yes, people will move around, but the last thing people in the low end need is more competition for their jobs. And automation comes based on the price of labor, so a huge increase in the price of labor will really speed things up.

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m not against minimum wage laws. I just think that the idea of a $15 minimum wage is simplistic to the point of being moronic.

    Yeah I know folks already moving not only the $15 an hour jobs out of the city and in some cases the state but also all of the folks currently making $15/hr who suddenly want $20+. We’ll lose some jobs. How many I have no idea. I am hopeful that at least the best of the guys at minimum wage will now be in Seattle. I don’t have high hopes for retail or cheap food. Some portion of that raise in minimum wage income would have come about just via competition with a low unemployment rate and high participation.

  13. 13

    By boater @ :

    Yeah I know folks already moving not only the $15 an hour jobs out of the city and in some cases the state but also all of the folks currently making $15/hr who suddenly want $20+.

    Which is the reason why labor unions support increased minimum wages. A rising tide raises all boats.

  14. 14
    Shoeguy says:

    By Blurtman @ – Asset inflation (homes included) plus flat and decreasing earnings = ?

    Don’t forget to multiply your equation by rising interest rates!

  15. 15
    boater says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    By boater @ :

    Yeah I know folks already moving not only the $15 an hour jobs out of the city and in some cases the state but also all of the folks currently making $15/hr who suddenly want $20+.

    Which is the reason why labor unions support increased minimum wages. A rising tide raises all boats.

    Except when the jobs go away completely. Which is what is happening in the case with my friends business. He’s moving the jobs either out of city or out of state. In some cases he’s now seeing lower costs than he would have had if they kept the $9+ per hr minimum wage.

  16. 16

    RE: boater @ – I was just addressing the nominal wage issue. The union being able to say that they negotiated a $1 an hour increase is good for them. But yes, bad things can happen. Inflation can make that increase insignificant or even negative. Job losses can result too.

    In the end I’m not even sure that their support of higher minimum wages makes much sense, just to make it easier to negotiate an increase in nominal wages down the road. But that is apparently their thinking.

  17. 17
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Shoeguy @ – Rising rates!? Ha, ha, ha. That is a good one!

  18. 18
    m-s says:

    RE: boater @
    C’mon. All the coffee shops, bistros, etc. in Seattle will close?? If so, new ones will open up, paying $15 to their staff. Man (Woman too) must 1) eat and 2) caffeinate.

  19. 19
    Eastsider says:

    Jobs aplenty? But I am still seeing many jobless people at traffic junctions on the Eastside. The number appears to be increasing all year. So what gives?

  20. 20
    Shoeguy says:

    By Blurtman @ :

    RE: Shoeguy @ – Rising rates!? Ha, ha, ha. That is a good one!

    I know I know, new normal and all that.

    That cowboy can ride that bull indefinitely.

  21. 21
    NoahFect says:

    RE: Eastsider @ – Those people are scammers, not genuine homeless/jobless.

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