January 7, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Employers boost economy by adding 312,000 jobs in December

American companies added 312,000 jobs to the economy in December, good news that quickly boosted the stock market on Friday. And, average hourly pay increased 3.2 percent from a year ago.

The unemployment rate in December was 3.9 percent, a slight increase since more people are looking for work.

The Associated Press called the news “an encouraging display of strength for an economy in the midst of a trade war, slowing global growth and a partial government shutdown.”

The Dow Jones industrial average increased more than 700 points Friday.

“Job growth at this pace is a sign that the economy will continue to expand for a 10th straight year, even if overall growth slows somewhat because of the waning stimulus from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts,” the news agency reported.

Employers added 2.6 million jobs to the economy in 2018, which comes to average of 217,000 a month. In December, about 6.3 million people were looking for work.

The AP also talked to the president of a painting company in Cincinnati, who said that franchise owners have to do more than post job ads to fill openings.

“We realized it was a mindset change: You have to be recruiting, rather than hiring,” Tara Riley of Fresh Coat Painters said.

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Legislative Day and Hill Climb Preview
Supporting Rural Areas

Let's work together to prioritize rural economic revitalization

By AWB President Kris Johnson

The mission of the Association of Washington Business is to bring people together throughout the state to promote economic prosperity -- from the urban centers to the most rural corners.

We know that parts of Washington have boomed since the end of the recession, but other areas -- particularly the rural communities that exist in each of our state's 39 counties -- have not realized the same economic opportunities.

Our state's overall success depends on not just talking about the many barriers holding back economic growth in rural regions but finding and implementing solutions discussed at the AWB Rural Jobs Summit in the Legislature and at the local level to move every community forward.

Whether urban, rural or somewhere in between, we're all in this together.

Read the full column in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Taxing Employers

Legislature's return to work presents a challenge for business

By Bill Virgin

Laments from the business community about taxes, regulations and the high cost and frustration of doing business around here are typically met with two responses: "It can't be that bad, look at our booming economy," and "If you don't like it, leave" (the latter usually accompanied by a snide remark about Texas or the South).

To those points: The current success of the tech sector, however loosely that's defined, certainly fueled economic growth in the region. But other sectors are struggling for reasons of their own (retailing) or related to the boom (industrial businesses dealing with high costs). Tech's boom has papered over a lot of ills, and if the sector ever has another moment like the dot-com bust, that facade will be gone...

Eventually businesses reach a point at which the cost/benefit analysis tips from staying to going.

It hasn't happened in great numbers and it won't happen at the same time for all businesses. But those tipping points are out there. In 2019, we'll find out see how enthusiastically the Legislature pushes the region closer to them.

Read the full column in The News Tribune
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