November 21, 2016
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Washington's jobless rate drops but still lags the rest of the country

Washington's jobless rate has hovered between 5.6 and 5.8 percent since the begining of 2015, but the latest data from the Washington Employment Security Department shows a drop to 5.4 percent. It's the biggest one-month drop in four years, and lowers the state's unemployment rate to the lowest it's been in eight years. Washington is still lagging the nation as a whole. The national unemployment rate in October was 4.9 percent.

In Seattle, the unemployment rate is even lower, at 3.8 percent, far lower than the 4.7 percent rate from a year ago. The peak Seattle-area unemployment rate at the height of the recession was 9.7 percent in 2010.

The state added 10,600 jobs, but the number of people listed as unemployed dropped by only 3,900. That's likely because most of the new jobs went to people who had stopped looking for work or newcomers from out of state, The Seattle Times reports.

While those numbers are positive, the picture is still far from rosy when considering broader rate of people in Washington who are underemployed or who want a job but have dropped out of the workforce. That adjusted unemployment is 10.7 percent, worse than the national rate of 9.8 percent.

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Focus on Sustainability

Feed Commodities LLC: Giving Unused Bakery Goods a New Life

This Tacoma company helps divert past-its-prime food from the landfill to ranchers, feeding cattle across the Northwest.

From Salem, Ore., to the Canadian border, Feed Commodities, LLC is the Pacific Northwest's premier recycler of bakery byproducts into livestock feeds. The company acquires otherwise unusable raw bakery goods around the Pacific Northwest to process at its Tacoma facility. Each month, the plant repurposes thousands of tons of bakery products that would otherwise end up in landfills, turning it into high-quality livestock feed sold in bulk to ranchers.

The company has also taken the lead in food waste reduction through the development of Normandy Waste Management Systems, a web-based software service designed to help the food production community learn how to track and reduce waste in their daily operations.

Read the full story in Washington Business Magazine
Time to Build Millennium Bulk Terminals

Still waiting for good jobs in Cowlitz County

By Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council

Millennium's $680 million private investment stands to create more than 1,000 union construction jobs over a two-year build-out under a Project Labor Agreement. That's also 135 permanent jobs when the facility is complete and 2,650 direct and indirect construction jobs overall. And that doesn't count the ongoing maintenance work that would employ different trades for years to come. For Cowlitz County, this represents a significant private investment that would have an enormous economic impact on thousands of tradespeople and their families. All told, Millennium would bring in $43.1 million in state and local taxes during construction, and $5.4 million in state and local taxes each year when fully operational.

It would also mean fewer people on the road, working closer to home.

Right now, most of our tradesmen and women work outside of Cowlitz County. Many work out of state, driving home on weekends or once a month for visits. I get so tired of people criticizing these Millennium jobs as "temporary." Anyone in the trades knows our work is always "temporary." And for someone who drives thousands of miles each month to a job in Montana, visiting their kids once a month back home in Kelso, the promise of a local "temporary" job sounds pretty appealing...

Read the full column in The Stand
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