The Economy is Horrible?

The Pacific Northwest has had the highest unemployment in the nation during the Bush Administrations, and similar numbers existed in the Clinton Administrations. But things are looking up.

Washington’s latest unemployment rate improved to 4.6 percent in updated January figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Employment Security.

The adjustment, reflecting new workforce numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, dropped the state rate one notch from the previously announced 4.7 percent, which was described as the lowest jobless rate in six years.

The state’s rate now is lower than the national average of 4.7 percent, officials said.

Oregon is reporting similar numbers. Looking at the data, we have an overall under 5% unemployment rate, which during my MBA classes a decade ago was the break point for employment figures. Below 5% they said then, you end you with “unnatural unemployment,” leading to artificially increased wages for low end workers, leading to inflation.

However, delving deeper into the numbers, we find the urban areas have much lower unemployment numbers, and the rural area higher unemployment. Some rural counties are at over 10%, while all the urban area are under 5%. So much for the common knowledge of urban unemployment.

The outlier here is how much this survey was affected by illegal immigrants, primarily from Mexico (if this were DC I would say Central America instead, just stating where most of the illegal immigrants come from – though Thailand is a significant source in WA State too). The whole non-farm worker count can be subject to error.

Bottom line – unemployment rates in the traditionally worst states are below historical averages, but this isn’t being commented on. Instead you hear how bad the economy is. There is a disconnect.

Raw date here

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, , , , , , , , ,
Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. Poly says:

    Back in 200-2001 when everthing was taking a huge dive, I was laid off. I had to take nearly $30,000 a year pay cut to stay in my field and stay working, albeit at a different company.
    Although I’m employed, I am spending way less. I doubt I’m alone in this scenario.
    Companies seem to pay less for more with employees now. This is certainly affecting the economy.

  2. Jack Ehrlich says:

    Sounds like Poly got caught up in the bursting bubble of the dot coms. Same thing happened to Capone. Prohibition ended and his organization had to find a different means to make their money. Some guys took a pay cut. Guys that made booze had to find something else to do. Hits didn’t cost as much.

  3. MrGone says:

    I think before we start talking about how good/bad things are, you might want to take a look at the recently released GAO report on FY2004/2005. It’s pretty frightening!

    The bottom line is that the deficit was 750B in 2005! This includes the fact that the government continue to use SS and medicare as revenue. Remember how Gore talked about the “lock box” and all the conservatives laughed at him? He was right!

    One of the scariest items was the US fiscal exposure. This is not the present cash value of the national debt but that plus SS and MC etc. That number has increased from 20 TRILLION in 2000 to 46 TRILLION in 2005! I can’t even get my head around that one.

    “Continuing on this this unsustainable path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security.”

    Please take a moment to read it. Changing this government’s path may be the most important thing we ever do!

  4. just me says:

    The rural unemployment numbers are interesting.

    Illegal immigration aside, I do think that often the plight of rural poor and rural education are ignored (and I don’t mean in the The Federal Government should send more money and save the day ignored), but when you see stories about poor people, or poor education, it is usually a city the story focus’ on, they don’t go out into podunk rural town to do the story.

  5. anjin-san says:

    Umm, who exactly said the economy is “horrible”? Are we actually pointing a finger here or is this just hyperbole? This seems like an attempt to rebuke the Democrats for saying something they did not actually say.

    How about an example of somebody actually making unfounded claims about the state of the economy?