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Slow recovery forecast for Washington economy

Pace depends on consumer spending

Washington’s chief economist today forecast a slow recovery that will not return state revenues to fiscal 2008 levels until 2011.

Income from sales, business and occupation and other taxes continues to fall below predictions – even those made as recently as March, said Arun Raha, who became Washington’s top economist the week after the Sept. 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

Washington’s economy “hit the wall” in the fourth quarter and has struggled for traction every since, he said at a meeting of the Association of Washington Business at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.

Raha said the S&P 500 index anticipates a national recovery starting late this year, but the turnaround will be slow.

Washington will continue to lose jobs until late in 2010, he said.

Tuesday, the Employment Security Department reported an April unemployment rate of 9.1 percent in April and a decrease of 80,000 in jobs statewide.