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Posts published in “Day: November 23, 2014”

A need for a new job metric

idaho RANDY

The unemployment stats in Washington and Oregon are a study in popular confidence as measured against the realistic basis for that confidence.

In Washington, for example, the state unemployment rate rose (in the stats released this week) to 6.0%, even though about 5,600 jobs were added to the job market – and filled.

No one was in error here; you just have to know what the unemployment stats reflect. As an article in this issue notes, Washington “State labor economist Paul Turek said the increase in the unemployment rate is not necessarily bad news because it is directly related to an increase in the state’s labor force, which rose by 12,200 in October.

And he said: “These numbers demonstrate increased confidence by job seekers entering or re-entering the marketplace. Job growth continues to gain momentum—with the state adding roughly 7,000 jobs a month—but for this month, the increase in the number of new job seekers entering into the labor market’s civilian workforce was greater than the number of new jobs added. That explains the increase in the unemployment rate.”

That was even more dramatically true in Oregon, which added even more jobs – 9,900 – than twice-as-big Washington state. Oregon’s was in fact the largest one-month addition of jobs in 20 years. But its unemployment rate stubbornly stayed put at 7.0%, which sounds worse than it is. It did that because workers have been pouring back into the work force (and, probably, a number of workers have been arriving from out of state as well).

For decades, we’ve focused hard on the unemployment rates (and note them here regularly). But have we reached a point where the more logical measure is of the balance between jobs opening up and those closing? Maybe something measuring, over the haul, the growth/retraction in jobs compared with the overall working-age population?

Certainly, we need some better metrics. The old ones just aren’t as useful as they once were.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Re-evaluations of Ada County's homeless (Boise Statesman)
A movement to make Craters of the Moon a national park (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register)
Ball Ventures developing in IF, Ammon (IF Post Register)
About human trafficking in Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
Carmike 7 movie theatres being demolished (Pocatello Journal)

UO Chinese students collect ideas to take home (Eugene Register Guard)
Craft whisleys grow in sales, impact (Medford Tribune)
Election turnout much higher in Oregon than nationally (Medford Tribune)
Looking at finances of Corinthinan Colleges (Portland Oregonian)
Kitzhaber talks about the headling post-election (Portland Oregonian)
Other implications for raising the minimum wage (Salem Statesman Journal)
Chemeketa looks at ways to cut textbook cost (Salem Statesman Journal)

Many requests for police cam footage (Bremerton Sun)
Surprise sale of large chunk of Kitsap land (Bremerton Sun)
Sound Transit may build train line to Everett (Everett Herald)
Fewer foreclosures, house prices rising (Longview News)
Cowlitz County starts online building permit process (Longview News)
Considering levels of safety in Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Kenmore still fields requests to return to PA (Port Angeles News)
Suburban school districts getting crowded (Spokane Spokesman)
Rates for sewer service may drop (Spokane Spokesman)
Reviewing Clark Co's many apartment fires (Vancouver Columbian)