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Posts tagged: unemployment

Idaho jobless rate falls to 7.1%

The unemployment rate in Idaho fell to 7.1 percent in September, the lowest rate since May 2009 and down from 7.4 percent in August.

But the state also has seen its labor force shrink four straight months, including the first August-September decline since the 1986 recession, the Idaho Department of Labor said Friday.

Employers in Idaho expanded payrolls last month at a higher rate than in the past five years, and at a slightly faster pace than during the expansion of 2003-07, the state reported.

Another 1,200 workers were on the job in September, pushing total employment to 720,600 – its highest level in four years – and breaking a two-month employment slide.

The jobless rate last month fell to 9 percent in Kootenai County; it was 11.5 percent a year ago. The rate hit 8.1 percent in Coeur d’Alene last month, down from 10.7 percent in September 2011.

Elsewhere in North Idaho, the September rate was 12.4 percent in Benewah County, 10.3 percent in Bonner County, 10.2 percent in Boundary County, and 12.1 percent in Shoshone County.

Jobless rate still falling in Idaho, but labor force shrinking

The unemployment rate fell in August across North Idaho and statewide, due in part to fewer people seeking jobs.

The Idaho rate fell to 7.4 percent, down slightly from July. In Kootenai County, the August jobless rate was 9 percent, down from 9.3 percent the month before.

The rate was lower in Bonner, Boundary, Benewah and Shoshone counties as well.

The loss of 2,600 workers from the state’s labor force – the first July-to-August decline since 1980 – offset an increase in hiring by employers at a rate just above their recession-era average, said Bob Fick, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor.

The August jobless rate statewide was the lowest in more than three years, but it also was the third straight month Idaho’s labor force has contracted, Fick explained.

The loss of more than 5,500 from the workforce through the summer was the largest three-month exodus of workers on record in the state and has left the labor force at its lowest level since January.

Still, there were 17,000 more people working in Idaho in August than a year earlier, and 11,000 fewer unemployed. In the past 13 months, the jobless rate has dropped a point and a half from a recession high of 8.9 percent.

Employers may be picking up their hiring, Fick said. Businesses report hiring 18,400 workers in August, mostly to replace workers who retired, were fired, found other jobs or left for some other reason. That rate of hiring matches the average August new hires during the economic expansion from 2003 through 2007, he said.

A second take on why Spokane saw a big surge in solo business owners

Time to clarify our earlier post about the number of possible new solo business owners in Spokane County.

That post, published here last week, said one study suggests 5,000 new solo businesses started in Spokane since 2006.

Today we spoke with Gary Smith, the retired WSU economist who runs the NWREAP site, where we spotted that number. Dr. Smith helped explain a few points he views differently than we do.

First, we hamfistedly said in our headline the growth of 5,000 jobs occurred over six years. It was really over FOUR years, covering 2006 to 2010.

Smith also took some exception to the following paragraph that interpreted the number of proprietors in Spokane since 2006. The 2006 number was 46,200 business proprietors, based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

We wrote: In 2010, as the recession has pushed many people out of traditional workplaces, Smith's numbers say Spokane's proprietor group has grown to 51,016.

Dr. Smith said he doesn't agree that the economy's downturn spurred this growth. He said the actual big upswing in proprietorships occurred exactly in 2006 and 2007 and generally stayed there through 2010, the last year the BEA has numbers for.

If anything, he contends the upswing in sole proprietors stems from the strong economy in 2006 and 2007, before the economy tanked.

If that's so, the next numbers that BEA come up with, for 2011, should show a drop from 2010's level. Those numbers will be out in November. We'll look at them and see if that's the case.

If they don't go down, we'll call it a victory for our team.

Stay tuned.

Study says Spokane gained 5,000 solo business owners in six years

This being labor day, two SR writers (Tom Sowa and Scott Maben) produced a story running Sunday that looks at what the local economy offers for job growth.

One piece of information that popped up in the research was a report on the number of business sole proprietors in the local economy.

That's not a number the federal or state economists regularly track. But Gary Smith, who runs a site called the Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Analysis Project (PNREAP) has done some data-gathering and has some numbers worth considering.

Smith has been a regional economist with Washington State University. We tried to reach him to look at the method used in gathering these numbers. We didn't connect. But we will follow up after Labor Day. His site cites the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

His numbers say: in 2006 Spokane County had 46,200 sole business proprietors — people who were a one-person business or one so small that it didn't pay payroll taxes to the state. Of those 2,000 were in the farm or food industry.

In 2010, as the recession has pushed many people out of traditional workplaces, Smith's numbers say Spokane's proprietor group has grown to 51,016.  Of those, 2,300 are in farming, according to the data he's collected.

That's a net gain since 2006 of almost 5,000 more people running a sole proprietorship.  It's not clear if those are people who also qualify as part time or full time workers for another company.

Washington jobless rate dips to 8.2 percent last month

Washington gained an estimated 4,200 jobs in February, adding to the state’s gradual climb up the employment ladder, the state’s Employment Security Department said today.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to an estimated 8.2 percent in February, down from a revised rate of 8.4 percent in January.  It was the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, when it was 7.7 percent.

As a result of the improved unemployment rate, the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits in Washington will likely be reduced from 99 down to 73 in mid- to late April.  Both of the federal benefits-extension programs are triggered by states’ unemployment rates.  Employment Security will announce the timing and more details of the change after receiving official notice from the federal Department of Labor.

Thanks to benchmarking, Washington state’s job gains in 2011 are way better

Washington state released two numbers Wednesday, both with a smiling face.

First, the January jobless number for the state was 8.3 percent, a drop from December's revised rate of 8.6 percent.

The second: a revised total job growth number for 2011. Due to the arcane business of “benchmarking,” the state's overall job gains in 2011 are now bigger and more subtantial than first believed.

The revised, benchmarked data show Washington gained about 53,500 jobs in 2011, compared to the 26,600 jobs previously reported. That's more than 100 percent better than the original number.

Benchmarking is a process by which the government goes back over data supplied by employers and recalculates and improves the data for jobless rates and employment.

Another upside from benchmarking: Washington's jobless rates in the latter half of 2011 were slightly better than initially estimated.

In other announcements, the state Employment Security Department announced the state gained 13,200 jobs during January.

“These numbers show that our economy is gaining strength, and that’s great news to start to the new year,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. If you care to dive into the full ESD release, it's at this link.

Here are the big sectors gaining jobs during January:

  • Professional and business services 5,500 jobs
  • Retail trade, 2,700 jobs
  • Education and health services, 2,300
  • Wholesale, 1,100
  • Leisure and hospitality 1,100
  • Construction, 900
  • Information, 500
  • Financial activities, 500.

Big losers among statewide sectors:

  • Government, down 1,100
  • Services, down 200
  • Mining & logging, down 200.

Washington jobless rate drops again, but so does number of jobs

OLYMPIA – December’s labor statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics once again produced conflicting data about what’s happening in Washington’s economy.

According to the bureau’s monthly survey of Washington households, the estimated unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent in December. This was the lowest since February 2009, when the unemployment rate was 8.3 percent.  

At the same time, a survey of Washington businesses showed an estimated job loss of 10,700 from November to December.

“There is a lot of volatility in the numbers we get from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and one month of numbers isn’t enough to gauge what’s happening in the job market,” said Greg Weeks, who heads the labor-market information office at the state Employment Security Department. “If you look at the trend over time, jobs are gradually increasing and the unemployment rate is coming down.”

Industry sectors that had the most job growth in December were education and health services, up an estimated 2,200 jobs; manufacturing, up 2,100, including 1,100 in aerospace; and the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector, up 500 jobs.

Washington jobless rate at 8.7%, lowest since 2009

OLYMPIA — Private-sector job growth has pushed Washington’s unemployment rate to the lowest point since February 2009, officials said today.

The Employment Security Department said the drop to 8.7 percent unemployment in November came with the state adding 12,100 jobs. The jobless rate was down from 9.1 percent in October.  

“This is the kind of job growth we need to make a good dent in the unemployment rate,” said Greg Weeks, director of the Employment Security Department’s labor-market information office, in a statement.  

The state has added jobs in 13 of the past 14 months, but it has usually come in smaller chunks.   

The November numbers show growth across much of the private sector. The professional and business services sector added 4,200 jobs. Leisure and hospitality grew by 3,800. Construction was up 2,000 jobs.  
Government posted a slight decline in jobs.  

More than 300,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in October, according to the Employment Security Department. As of Saturday, some 68,000 workers had exhausted their unemployment benefits.  

Washington’s numbers followed the national trend for November. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent.

Unemployment tax rates to drop, workers comp rates steady

OLYMPIA — Most Washington businesses will see lower unemployment taxes and many will have no increase in their workers compensation rates in 2012.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, announcing the new rates for next year, said they represent “real reform” through work with the Legislature earlier this years, rather than the calls for reform some legislators now say are needed before the state considers a tax increase.

“I've been doing reform long before anybody used it as a political football like they are today,” Gregoire said.

To learn more about the rates announced this morning, see our Spin Control blog.

Spokane County jobless rate 8.3% in October

Seasonal hiring of educators and retail workers helped push Spokane County’s unemployment rate down last month. It fell to 8.3 percent in October, down from September’s revised rate of 8.4 percent.

It’s the lowest rate so far this year but remains high than in October 2010, when unemployment was 8.1 percent. There were about 5,000 more jobs here one year ago, said Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department.

October typically has the highest employment rate of the year as schools bring on teachers and staff, and as stores get ready for the holiday shopping season. The local economy supports about 25,000 retail jobs, which is up 280 jobs over last October.

But the public sector continues to be a drag on the economy due to federal, state and local government layoffs – a trend that will persist into 2012, Tweedy said.

“We’re still making up for lost jobs over the year,” he said.

Private employers, however, have added about 800 jobs this year in Spokane County. The bulk of those have been in the manufacturing and health care sectors.

Another positive sign is that initial claims for unemployment benefits are down to 2007 levels, which tweedy said can be a leading indicator of job growth.

Statewide, unemployment in October was at 8.3 percent, down from 8.8 percent in October 2010.

Slight drop in Idaho joblessness

Employers across Idaho’s economy maintained payrolls at higher levels than typical for October, pushing Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down another two-tenths of a point to 8.8 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years.

It was the second straight month that Idaho’s jobless rate has been below the national rate, which fell just a tenth of a point to 9 percent. Unemployment in Idaho has declined six-tenths of a percentage point in the last three months and eight-tenths from the record 9.7 percent in December through March.

The number of workers with jobs rose 2,300 from September to 692,700. It was the second largest one-month employment increase since November 2006. The largest was 3,200 in April during an economic growth spurt that sputtered as summer arrived.

Kootenai County, which has had unemployment in double digits for more than a year, posted substantial declines to fall below 11 percent in October.

Washington jobless rate falls to 9 percent

OLYMPIA — Washington’s jobless rate has dropped to 9 percent — the lowest since March 2009, according to figures released today by the state Employment Security Department.

The October rate compares with a revised figure of 9.2 percent for September and 9.4 percent in October of last year in the state, the Associated Press reported. The national jobless rate also is 9 percent.   

With 4,600 jobs added in October in Washington, the department says the state has added jobs in 12 of the last 13 months.  

A loss of 18,000 jobs reported in September was revised to a loss of 10,700 jobs.  

“The October numbers showing slow, steady improvement are more consistent with what we’ve seen for more than a year,” said Dave Wallace, a department economist.  “It looks more likely that the September numbers were an anomaly.”  

Jobs were added in October in government, wholesale trade, education and health services and manufacturing. Jobs were lost in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and retail trade.

Spokane County jobless rate goes up to 9.2 percent in August

August is a typically decent jobs month, but the latest job totals from the state and from Spokane County show a continuation of a generally OK year, but nothing great.

The preliminary jobless number for Spokane County for August is 9.2 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department. In July it was 8.8. The August number is not seasonally adjusted, said Doug Tweedy, the state's Eastern Washington labor economist.

A year ago, Spokane County was also at 9.2 percent.

The telling difference: in August 2010 the county had 212,110 employed adults. This past August that number fell to 208,410.

The biggest losers by industries were:  Government, retail trade, construction and financial services.

Look for a more detailed summary at Spokesman.com later today, or in tomorrow's business section of The Spokesman-Review.

A slight improvement in North Idaho jobs picture

The high unemployment rate in parts of North Idaho fell a little last month – the first positive sign in a year or more.

The jobless rate in August was 11.6 percent in Kootenai County, down from 11.8 percent in July, the Idaho Department of Labor reported today.

Bonner County also saw a dip of two-tenths of a percentage point, to 14.1 percent. And in Benewah County, the rate dropped to 14.3 percent in August, down from 14.9 percent a month earlier.

Shoshone County, however, saw a slight increase in unemployment claims, to 15.9 percent, as did Boundary County, which hit 15.3 percent in August.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in August, falling to its lowest level in 15 months. Although the rate was estimated at 9.2 percent – the lowest since May 2010 – 70,000 people were still out of work around the state.

The state tracked about 13,250 persons on unemployment in the five northern counties last month. That was 200 fewer than in July.

Washington to release August jobs numbers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington officials are preparing to release details on the state’s employment situation in August.

The information from the Employment Security Department on Wednesday comes after recent months showed conflicting signals about the economy. The number of jobs has grown for 11 consecutive months but the unemployment rate has grown from 8.8 percent in March to 9.3 percent in July.  

The unemployment rate had fallen through much of 2010 after hitting a peak of 10 percent at the beginning of last year.   

State economic forecasters have lowered their growth projections for the rest of this year. Lawmakers are now closely watching economic indicators, especially a new revenue forecast due to be released Thursday.

July jobless rate hits 9 percent in Spokane County

Spokane County's unemployment rate ticked up a notch in July, to 9 percent. The jobless rate in June was 8.9 percent, and in July 2010 it was 9.1 percent.

There were 20,250 unemployed workers in the county last month, according to the Washington Employment Security Department. That's down slightly from 20,840 unemployed workers in June.

The jobless rate last month hit 11 percent in Stevens County, 11.6 percent in Pend Oreille County, and nearly 13 percent in Ferry County.

Elsewhere in the region, the July rate was 7.5 percent in Whitman County, 7.6 percent in Adams County and 7.9 percent in Lincoln County.

Employment picture not improving in N. Idaho

The Idaho Labor Department today released the July unemployment numbers, and the news is not encouraging in North Idaho.

Four of the five counties in the panhandle saw the unemployment rate go up last month, and the rate remained the same in the fifth: Kootenai County.

Here's the breakdown:

Kootenai County (including Coeur d'Alene): 11.7 percent, unchanged from June.

Shoshone County (including Kellogg): 15.8 percent, up from 14.7 percent in June.

Boundary County (including Bonners Ferry): 15.1 percent, up from 14.5 in June.

Benewah (including St. Maries): 15 percent, up from 14.6 percent in June.

Bonner (includiing Sandpoint): 14.2 percent, up from 13.4 percent in June.

In Post Falls, the rate ticked downward last month, to 12.3 percent. It was 12.9 percent in June.

In Ceoru d'Alene, the rate was 11.9 percent in July, down a tad from 12 percent.

Report: Thousands out of benefits, still out of work

A recent survey of Washington workers who failed to find work before running out of unemployment benefits revealed that three out of four of them remain jobless.

The survey also shows that 80 percent of those back at work earn less than in their former jobs – on average, about 29 percent less.

Of those who returned to work, about 19 percent found jobs out of state.

The state’s Employment Security Department emailed a survey in April to nearly 32,000 individuals who had run out of unemployment benefits since November 2009, and 5,065 people responded. The claimants had access to as many as 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Employment Security sought to find out if exhaustees have returned to work, the employment services they’re using and the barriers they’re running into while looking for new jobs.

Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said the survey findings shed valuable insight on what is happening to workers who run out of unemployment benefits.

“The survey contradicts the perception that unemployed workers wait until their benefits run out, then quickly find work,” Trause said.  “We know there aren’t enough jobs to go around right now, but there may be additional factors that keep employers from hiring these workers.”

Idaho’s unemployment rate remains at 9.4%

BOISE — The Idaho Department of Labor says the statewide unemployment held steady at 9.4 percent in June.

The agency released the latest jobless numbers today, saying the Idaho labor pool shrunk for the first time in 10 months as fewer jobs were created and more than 1,800 unemployed workers either gave up their search or left the state in June.

Idaho’s jobless rate fell to 9.4 percent in May, down from 9.6 percent in April.

The labor department says more than 30,000 unemployed workers collected $28.8 million in benefits last month, which is down compared to a year ago when more than 38,000 workers received $41.7 million in June 2010.

The state reports more than 10,600 unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits and are still without work.

Fewer people sought unemployment aid last week

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in seven weeks, although applications remain elevated, the Associated Press reports.

The Labor Department said today that applications for benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined for the first time in four weeks, to 424,750.

Applications have topped 400,000 for 13 weeks, evidence the job market has weakened since the beginning of the year. Applications had fallen in February to 375,000, a level that signals sustainable job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for seven of the next nine weeks. But then applications surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have shown only modest improvement since.

The government will release its June employment report Friday. Economists expect employers added a net total of 90,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.1 percent, according to a survey by FactSet.

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