Archive of: Work Force

Title Issue

Unemployment rate jumped in December

Washington's unemployment rate increased to 7.1 percent in December 2008, up from November's rate of 6.4 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department. The state lost an estimated 22,200 non-agricultural jobs, seasonally adjusted.

Industries with the most job growth included information, with 300 new jobs, aerospace, which added 400, and education and health services, up 300. The largest declines were in manufacturing, which cut 3,500 jobs, professional and business services, down 7,900, administrative and support services, down 5,600, construction, down 4,200, and transportation, trade and utilities, which lost 3,300 jobs.

January 2009

Wage freeze bill proposed

Senate Bill 5362 has been proposed and would change the formula the state uses to set its minimum wage.

The bill would set Washington's minimum wage at its current $8.55 an hour and eliminate the requirement that the rate be raised each year. On Jan. 1, Washington's minimum wage automatically rose from $8.07 to $8.55 an hour - the highest rate in the nation. Small businesses struggling to stay afloat and keep from cutting jobs during these tough economic times requested the bill.

January 2009

Russell's Global CIO sees upturn ahead

Russell Investments' Chief Investment Officer Peter Gunning expects equity markets to signal a mid-year economic turnaround before it's officially determined by economic statistics. He said that by the time the U.S. recession was officially declared in December, major U.S. stock indexes already showed staggering year-to-date declines.

"Russell's analysis and models point to a slow and perhaps subdued economic recovery starting later in 2009, with the markets likely to recover before the U.S. economy," said Gunning. "Global economies will recover later than the U.S. economy."

January 2009

Gig Harbor resident at center of class action suit

A Gig Harbor home owner has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Trex Co., claiming the nation's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking is selling flawed products, and fails to live up to its guarantee when its products fail.

Mark Okano claims his two-year old deck made entirely from Trex product began degrading, cracking and rotting in July 2008, but the company refuses to reimburse him for the costs associated with repairing the deck -- specifically the cost of labor to remove the bad boards and install new ones.

January 2009

South Sound flooding causes growth pains for nonprofit

The startup nonprofit Help 4 Hard Times has gone from toddler to teenager in a matter of months as it has had to manage the demands of its surrounding community following two floods in the last year.

January 2009

Gregoire unveils jobs initiative

Gov. Chris Gregoire today unveiled her Washington Jobs Now initiative -- her state-sponsored economic recovery plan -- while speaking at the 37th Annual Economic Forecast Conference.

"We can quickly create thousands of new jobs this year and next by accelerating nearly $1 billion in public works projects," Gregoire said. "The plan will create a legacy of roads, schools and green-collar jobs to thrust our state firmly into the 21st century."

January 2009

CEOs are upbeat about their firms, worry about general economy

Senior executives and managers are not optimistic about the overall strength of the economy for 2009, but they have a positive personal outlook on the growth of their own businesses.

Almost half of the business leaders questioned for a national survey believe the overall economy will worsen during the coming year, according to a worldwide survey conducted by NFI Research. One in five said the economy will stay the same.

While many of the entrepreneurs were concerned about the strength of the overall economy, about half of them were optimistic about the increase or growth of their own business during 2009. 

January 2009

Construction materials prices drop

Construction materials prices dropped 2.5 percent in December compared to November's costs, according to the Producer Price Index report by the U.S. Labor Department. This drop represents the third straight month where construction materials prices have fallen bringing the fourth quarter price declines to 8.3 percent. However, despite the drop, construction input prices are 2.7 percent higher than the same time last year.

"Today's PPI report represents a mixture of good and bad news," said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "The good news is that key construction materials prices are now in sustained decline, and this increases the appetite for construction services, all things being equal. The bad news is that all things are not equal. These price drops are a function of declining worldwide demand for construction, even in the face of falling construction materials prices."

January 2009

Holiday sales decline 2.8 percent

A deep recession, severe winter weather and five fewer shopping days combined to create the most challenging sales environment in years for the nation's retailers. The National Retail Federation is reporting that retail sales for December declined 2.2 percent compared to last year and decreased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November.

January 2009

Blog Watch: banks and buyers remorse

Lacey-based biz blogger Ken Balsley made note of the number of banks located in the county at a time when banks are reportedly struggling and a new one is entering the market. Welcome, Golf Bank. Balsley notes that the county has 76 bank or credit union branches, with 28 different names.

The AWB has an item on the planned repeal of the well-supported but not-funded paid family leave plan. The issue is being revisited as the state faces a slump and dollars aren't as available for government programs as they were just a few months ago.

January 2009
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