May 6, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
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Strong national jobs report highlights lowest national unemployment rate in 49 years

The American economy is roaring. Newly released monthly employment figures saw the nation's jobless rate drop to 3.6%, the lowest level since 1969. The economy has been expanding for 103 months, and in July will become the longest economic expansion in history.

The economy saw 263,000 jobs added in April. Analysts had expected 190,000 jobs.

With the job market tight, wages are rising. Average hourly earnings were 3.2 percent higher in April than the year before, marking nine straight months of wage growth topping 3 percent annual growth.

"We are constantly having conversations with clients about supply and demand" and reminding them that most applicants have multiple job opportunities, said Jason Guggisberg, vice president of Adecco USA. "Two years ago, I don't know that I ever had that conversation."

Consumers are ramping up spending, with March numbers the strongest in nearly a decade, as steady job growth and solid wages mean bigger paychecks for more families.

Businesses are also spending. Long-term capital goods purchases for factories increased in March by the biggest amount in eight months.

Opportunity Washington has a roundup of the week's economic news.

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Spring Meeting
Last-Minute Legislating

Spin Control: Doing the budget the way it's always done doesn't make it the best way

By Jim Camden

Legislators are apt to defend their budget process as "this is the way it's always done." If that was a good reason, one might think we would still be hanging horse thieves, placing miscreants in the stocks and throwing debtors into prison for not paying bills, or doing any number of imperfect things we've stopped doing.

In truth, the "always done" defense is only applied by people who do it that way because it suits them.

It suits legislative leaders to hold on to the budget until the very end of the session to have some leverage over hard-to-handle lawmakers. It suits budget writers from each chamber to sequester themselves somewhere away from the madding crowd of colleagues and lobbyists to avoid being pestered for everyone's favorite six-, seven-, or eight-figure project. And then there's always that familiar refrain that negotiators can't speak freely if discussions are in the open, because they might be criticized for suggesting something that doesn't sit well with the folks back home, even if it does break a logjam that leads to the deal.

This process keeps the people and businesses who will pay for all the programs and salaries out of the loop for most of the key decision points...

Read the full column in The Spokesman-Review
Talent and Capital

The Seattle-area economy punches above its weight -- and that's a huge strength

By Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

Newcomers -- and there are many -- might think that the Puget Sound region's economy is so hot because of two Big Tech headquarters, along with the "legacy" power of Boeing.

It's understandable. Amazon and Microsoft are two of the five giants that make up America's technology royalty (Apple, Facebook and Google are in the Bay Area). We're on the cutting edge of software, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and so much more.

Boeing's operations, especially commercial airliners, anchor one of the world's top aerospace clusters (the other being Airbus in Toulouse, France). The company is not only the nation's largest manufacturing exporter, but also, especially with its defense divisions, a strategic asset.

Together, the three employ about 166,000 here in well-paid, high-skilled jobs. Boeing is Washington's largest private employer, with a workforce of 69,830 as of February.

It's hard to think of another similar-sized metropolitan area in the United States with anything close.

But this is only a start in explaining why Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue enjoys one of the strongest economies in the nation. How strong? Per capita gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, was nearly $81,000 in 2017. That compares with $61,000 in San Diego and $63,000 in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Larger Phoenix lagged in at $45,000...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
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