Every year the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance hosts what it calls a “Decision Makers Breakfast,” with someone to talk about the coming economic year. This year it’s John Mitchell, who was previously allied with a bank, but now carries the company name of M&H Economic Consultants. I don’t have access to archives, but my recollection is he’s been the Decision Makers Breakfast speaker for at least the previous two years. When I was a business reporter in Vancouver he spoke at one of our breakfasts. He’s got an engaging public speaking personality. He can make you laugh about your impending foreclosure.
Mitchell, entitling his talk “Is This the End?” said he doesn’t think we’re headed to a recession this year, because other than the housing numbers, the rest of the economy is doing OK. Only two states, Ohio and Michigan, are showing declines in employment. In November 2007 Washington was seventh best in the country in job growth.
“Washington seems to be admirably situated to continue to be a strong performer,” Mitchell said.
The prevalence of government jobs gives Kitsap County a greater built-in level of stability, according to Michell.
The first baby boomer to draw Social Security did it this month. There will be 78 million more and it will take until 2026 for that to end, something that could become a problem.
Prior to Mitchell’s speech we have a panel discussing workforce. Lynn Longan from the state’s Department of Community Trade and Economic Development referred to sub-5 unemployment level and said the availability of workers, or lack of workers, is an issue employers are going to have to deal with for some time.
There’s also some discussion of the need for more bachelor’s degrees offered in the county and a brief comment about the less-than-stellar work habits of younger workers.
Ed Stern, Poulsbo city councilman, said we may have talked about the lack of four-year degrees so much that we’ve pushed kids out of the county who actually could have received degrees here through about 10 schools that offer distance learning programs.