Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Very Real Pain of Progressive Rule

Yesterday our community was greeted with one more consequence of Progressive majority rule - the pain of unemployment as reported by Dave Gallagher of the Bellingham Herald:

Whatcom County's unemployment rate reached 10 percent for the first time in more than 20 years as private sector industries reported job losses across the board.

The rate has risen significantly the past two months.

In January the unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department. In December, it was 8.3 percent. Since 1990, when the ESD started using the current method for tracking unemployment, Whatcom County has not had double-digit unemployment.

In February 10,540 people were actively seeking work locally, up more than 2,000 compared to February 2009. There are also a number of discouraged workers - those that have given up looking - whom the ESD doesn't track at the county level.

Jim Vleming, regional labor economist for the state, reiterated what many economists across the country have been predicting: Jobs will be one of the last areas of the economy to recover.

"This is going to be a recovery that will happen one job at a time; there won't be a sudden rise," Vleming said. "It's going to start with a small-business owner becoming confident enough to hire one or two more employees because sales have picked up, not from big companies significantly adding jobs."

While all Whatcom County private industries had decreases, Vleming was particularly concerned about the local leisure and hospitality sector. He expected at least some ramping up for the Winter Olympics last month, but instead the industry employed 8,600 people, down by 700 compared to February 2009.

Construction continues to be one of the hardest-hit sectors. In February the industry employed 5,500 people in Whatcom County, matching the January total, which was the lowest monthly total in eight years...

Nearby counties continued to be hit hard. Skagit County's unemployment rate rose to 12.4 percent in February, while Snohomish was at 10.5 percent.

Meanwhile across Washington State similar headlines reveal the depth of the pain. Here are a few more headlines:

• Kitsap County unemployment at highest rate in two decades (Kitsap Sun)
• Thurston jobless rate hits 9% (The Olympian)
• Lewis County jobless rate hits 15 percent in February (The Chronicle)
• Washington state unemployment rate rises to 9.5 percent (Puget Sound Business Journal)

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