State job growth surpasses national rate

Washington has added 85,000 new jobs in the past year, an increase of 3.1 percent — a rate that far surpasses national job growth of 1.7 percent for the same period, Gov. Chris Gregoire reported Friday.

“This is terrific news for our state,” the governor said following her quarterly Council of Economic Advisors meeting with some of the state’s top economists, including the state’s chief economist Dr. ChangMook Sohn. “We’re going in the right direction and I’m going to make sure I continue to do everything I can to see that our strong economy stays strong.”

Records examined by Gov. Gregoire and the council included a breakdown by region of job growth from September 2004 to September of this year. The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area had the biggest jump – 3.6 percent, but every region of Washington saw stronger job growth. Job growth in the Tacoma area increased by 2.2 percent. In Spokane, it was 2.8 percent. Other areas also increased by 2.8 percent.

The strongest job growth was in construction, aerospace, software publishing and professional and business services.

At the top of the council’s list was the possibility that the hot real estate market will cool too fast, removing an important source of wealth for consumers. Consumer spending remains the engine of the economy.

Other risks include rising costs for fuel and natural gas, already a drag on consumer spending and on agriculture, and a cooling of economic activity in Europe and Asia.

The council unanimously advised the governor to set aside a substantial portion of the state’s now healthy revenue, to be used in the coming two-year budget cycle beginning in July 2007. The economy by then likely will have cooled, and the money will be needed to avoid wrenching budget cuts or higher taxes, the economists predicted.

California’s current budget woes actually began in the late and roaring 1990s when state government created programs and costs that were not sustainable after the 2000 recession struck.