Washington state’s economic growth has finally begun to accelerate in 2012, with most sectors adding jobs each month. Yet, employment gains are modest, and the state’s unemployment rate sits at 8.5% while the nation’s has dropped to 7.8%. The slow recovery in construction and continued cuts in public sector jobs are a drag on the whole economy. How the 2013 legislature and new Governor address the funding shortage for K-12 education, implementation of the Affordable Care Act and capital investments will affect all sectors of the economy. Smart choices and intentional public investments will move Washington much more quickly into recovery, strengthening industries and communities throughout the state.
Jobs lost and created
While the Great Recession officially started in December 2007, Washington state didn’t begin shedding jobs until nine months later in the fall of 2008. And it wasn’t until just two years ago that jobs numbers began to consistently increase. It has been a slow, modest climb, with the pace picking up in recent months. Between September 2010 and September 2011, total nonfarm employment grew by 1.7%, with gains of nearly 47,000 jobs. In the following year, growth was up to 2.1%, with more than 58,000 jobs added during the last 12 months.1