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home : business news : business news February 6, 2016

10/3/2012 6:33:00 PM
NCW economy hiccups
By Mark Berreth
Regional Labor Economist

CHELAN COUNTY -- It looks like North Central Washington is showing signs of economic struggle. While month-to-month employment has taken a normal seasonal drop, the overall losses in year-to-year figures are showing some signs of struggle. Even though the losses can be distressing, it's mainly showing a short-term trend. The overall picture is still positive, but must be taken with a grain of salt.

The preliminary unemployment rate of 7.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted) for the Wenatchee MSA is 1.5 percentage points above July 2012, and equivalent to the reading for August 2011.

Year-over-year figures show minimal downward movement both in the civilian labor force and total employment figures. This is the first month in 2012 where losses in the civilian labor force were sustained. Previous months have been showing steady growth and improvements both in total employment figures and a dropping unemployment rate. This one month drop could be showing a minor fluctuation given all the previous growth.

Over-the-month the civilian labor force and total employment dropped significantly. This is a normal seasonal pattern as seasonal employment peaks in July, makes a significant drop in August, and edges down through December or January.

Washington state's 8.5 percent unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) is 0.5 percentage points below August 2011's reading. Total employment posted strong positive growth while the civilian labor force dropped. This all led to the number unemployed dropping significantly.

Year-over-year gains in total nonfarm employment have been struggling to show a strong positive picture in 2012. Only four of the last eight months have shown positive growth.

The most positive sign right now is growth of three of the last four months. While this month remained flat, an overall positive direction is being sustained in the short-run.

Over-the-month total nonfarm employment and total private employment shed jobs. The goods-producing sector remained flat and the service-providing sector contained all of the losses. Government employment shed jobs mainly in local government. The majority of the losses within private service-providing were in trade, transportation, and utilities. This comes from a drop in transportation employment through agriculture. Retail trade and leisure and hospitality remained flat.

Year-over-year figures were flat this month with a slight positive bump in total private employment. The goods-producing sector edged down both in construction and manufacturing. The service-providing sector gained jobs within private service-providing but shed jobs in the public sector. The reported private service-providing sectors shed jobs across the board according to the table below. Other sectors not reported here gained jobs to give an overall positive figure.

Washington state's non-seasonally adjusted figures posted strong growth in total nonfarm employment due to the private sector in year-over-year figures. Durable goods manufacturing, particularly aerospace, posted strong growth within the goods-producing sector. Professional and business services gained the most jobs within the service-providing sector. Retail trade and leisure and hospitality also posted growth.

Consumer confidence and consumer expectations have both dropped this month. The end of 2011 was starting to show positive growth in both leading indicators, but 2012 has shown an overall downward trend.

Production of final products, a national leading indicator, dropped this month due to both consumer goods and business equipment. The indicator is still on an overall upward trend since mid-2009.

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