Monthly Archives: June 2012

State: Downturn takes toll on green economy

The following this morning from the Washington Department of Employment Security, which watches employment trends:

OLYMPIA – In its third study of green jobs in Washington, the Employment Security Department found evidence that the recession took a toll on jobs involved in developing or using environmentally friendly products.

The study also supported earlier findings that there’s little difference between a green economy and the regular economy.

Unlike the reports in 2008 and 2009, the “2011 Green-Economy Jobs Report” takes a comprehensive look at all private- and public-sector industries in Washington. Altogether, the department found an estimated 120,000 green jobs in 2011, nearly 105,000 of them in the private sector.

Since it was the first comprehensive study, researchers cannot accurately estimate the total change in green jobs since 2008. However, among the industries that were surveyed in both 2009 and 2011, green jobs declined by an estimated 18,300, or 18 percent.

About 60 percent of the decline occurred in the government sector. But private-sector green jobs also shrank in industries that previously had reported increases.

Researchers couldn’t identify a specific reason for the declines.

“It appears the recession took at least some toll on green jobs, but how employers interpret the definition may be another factor,” said Cynthia Forland, research director for Employment Security.

Washington state defines a green job as one in which workers are helping to increase energy efficiency, produce renewable energy, or prevent, reduce or clean up pollution. In the department’s survey, employers were asked to identify how many of their employees had one or more of these activities as a primary focus of their jobs.

“As more and more jobs incorporate elements of green activities, there may be fewer jobs where green responsibilities are a primary focus,” Forland said. “The green economy and the regular economy are mostly one and the same.”

Association of Washington Business: Student Employment sinks to 20-Year Low

By Don C. Brunell, President
Association of Washington Business

We all know about the nation’s weak economy and tough job market, but the prolonged recession is hitting high school and college students as well.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of high school students with jobs is at its lowest level in more than 20 years. In 1990, 32 percent of high school students held jobs, compared to 16 percent today.

The anemic economy is largely to blame.

According to the Washington Times, sectors that traditionally offer teens their first gig, such as fast-food chains, movie theaters, malls and retailers, have become the last resort for out-of-work college graduates or older Americans forced back into the job market.

University of Washington sociology professor Charles Hirschman told the Times, “When you can’t find someone to bag your groceries or work construction, often teenagers are the labor force you can count on to pick up the slack for a low wage. But now, with the recession, everybody has moved down and these jobs aren’t going to teenagers.”

Traditionally, those part-time jobs were a right of passage, teaching young people critical work skills, such as showing up on time, dealing with customers and managing their own money — in short, responsibility. Growing up in Montana, I had several part-time jobs, including delivering newspapers at age 12, working in the family garbage business at 15 and bussing tables at 16.

But now those jobs are unavailable for millions of young people.

Today’s fierce competition for the best four-year universities is also to blame. Prestigious universities are looking for well-rounded applicants with high grades and a lengthy roster of school activities.

Meeting those standards leaves students little time for work.

The job crunch has also hit college students. NCES reports that in 2000, over half of the full-time college students worked. That total has now fallen to 40 percent.

College students also face skyrocketing debt, as tuition at our major universities has increased by 14 percent each of the last two years and is projected to go higher as states struggle with a sluggish economy and shortfalls in tax collections.

Two out of three college students have student loans, and nationally, graduates owe a total of $1 trillion in unpaid student loans, averaging $23,000 per student.

Historically, graduates could find good jobs to repay those loans, but that’s no longer the case. Students walk out of college smack into a job market with 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or who have given up looking for work.

These graduates are often disillusioned, frustrated and losing hope. Pollster John Zogby calls them the CENGA generation: College Educated, Not Going Anywhere.They’ve lost faith in all of the traditional institutions including government, politics and the church.

Zogby says the CENGA generation is largely responsible for the surprising number of young people who support Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul. Simply put, they’re against whoever’s in charge.
The real problem for America is the anemic economy recovery is not producing even close to the number of jobs necessary for people entering the workforce.

So what is the answer?

Our elected officials must remove barriers to expanding economic opportunity. It does no good to spend billions in federal money on training and retraining programs if the jobs don’t exist. Officials must dismantle the regulatory barriers that discourage the creation of new businesses and stymie the growth of existing ones.

Finally, we must find ways to make higher education more affordable so graduating seniors are not saddled with massive debt. Solving these problems won’t be easy, but it is essential if America is going to prosper and offer hope to the generations to come.

Kitsap unemployment rate rises

By Rachel Pritchett

Kitsap County’s unemployment rate jumped sharply to 7.8 percent in May from an adjusted rate of 7.2 percent in April.

Some 9,660 people were searching for work in Kitsap County in May, up from 8,930 people in April, according to fresh numbers from the state Department of Employment Security.

While more Kitsap residents were searching for work in May, the number of jobs in Kitsap County rose by 1,000 jobs.

The number of jobs can increase even though the unemployment rate rises because more people become encouraged they can find work and re-enter the ranks of job-seekers. Also, the number can increase when people in Kitsap County lose their jobs in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, and the losses are tallied in the county where they live, according to Employment Security economist Elizabeth Court.

All of the growth in the number of jobs in May was in the private sector, including trade, transportation and utilities; tourism; and retail jobs. Some 2,300 private-sector jobs have been added over the year.

Meanwhile, growth in government jobs remained stagnant in May, and over the year have decreased by 600 jobs, mostly in state government.

As of last month, 29,200 Kitsap residents held government jobs, making it tenth in the nation for the percentage of government-related jobs, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Kitsap is home to several military entities, including Naval Base Kitsap.

The unemployment rate in Mason County in May was 10.9 percent, up from 10.4 percent in April. In Jefferson County, May’s rate was 10 percent, up from 9.5 percent. Washington state’s rate for May stood at 8.4 percent; the national rate remained steady at 8.2 percent.

People having jobs earned more money at them in the past year, according to Employment Security. The average annual wage grew by 3.6 percent statewide in 2011, from $48,162 in 2010 to $49,894 in 2011.

Much of the increase was due to a 7.5 percent increase in jobs paying more than $75,000.
“Month to month, we’ve been seeing strong growth in industries that tend to offer above-average pay,” said Employment Security commissioner Paul Trause.

Industries with the highest wage growth statewide last year were information technology, management and manufacturing.

A few port notes, and a retreat that excluded the press


A couple of items I couldn’t squeeze into my story on the Port of Bremerton, with a new commission and CEO.

1. I interviewed each commissioner individually, and two — Larry Stokes and Roger Zabinski — expressed their frustration of having a three-member commission. Under state opening-meeting rules, two members can’t meet without notice to the public, as two members is a quorum on a three-member commission. That means no business-related phone calls, emails and correspondence. Zabinski suggest a five-member board with members serving four-year terms instead of the current six-year terms. Former Commissioner Bill Mahan proposed a five-member commission back in 2010, but was shot down:

2. Stokes expressed his anger to me about the Port of Bremerton spending $35,000 annually to help support the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. This past Thursday and Friday, KEDA had an overnight retreat at IslandWood.

Stokes said, “If they are having a retreat on Bainbridge Island at taxpayers’ expense, if you can’t drive up there in 30 minutes, that’s wrong. You can quote me, I’m not going.”

I didn’t go either. The press was not invited to the retreat of this group largely funded by public monies. I will take this up with Executive Director John Powers and board members the next time I see them. Luckily I know who most of them are, because the KEDA website fails to list them. Elliot Gregg is board president. Often, I am not invited to the group’s annual meetings, either, at least in recent years. When I found out about the quiet overnight retreat at IslandWood — late last week while it was in full swing — I phoned KEDA member Ed Stern and passed on the word that the press is entitled to have the option to report this to the public.

Rachel Pritchett, reporter

Kitsap gas prices falling sharply

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline stood at $4.05 this morning, a sharp fall from the $4.09 average price yesterday and the $4.20 average price a week ago. That was causing a mini-rush at the pump early this morning on the Port Madison reservation, where I purchase gas. My clerk friend told me it was a bargain there at $3.71. Sure doesn’t feel like one. Ouch.

Rachel Pritchett

If you are interested in a Kitsap muni league, go here

Former Bremerton and Bellevue Mayor Cary Bozeman, who posed starting a municipal league here in Kitsap County, tells me he’s organized about 16 local leaders to talk on the subject July 12. Bozeman can be reached at if you are interested. Here is the link to my story today. Rachel Pritchett

Visitors’ bureau to be featured at state gathering

WALLA WALLA — The Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau’s efforts to market the Kitsap Peninsula as a tourist destination will be featured at an upcoming state forum on unique tourism strategies in tough times.

Patty Graf-Hoke, the bureau’s executive director since 2009, will share her group’s strategies at a meeting of the state Office of the Lieutenant Governor’s Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations on June 26 in Walla Walla.

Graf-Hoke said the bureau has focused on casting the peninsula as a tourist destination rather than a place to go through to get to the Olympic Mountains or the ocean.

“It’s a positioning thing,” Graf-Hoke said. The bureau’s theme is “The Natural Side of Puget Sound.”

— Rachel Pritchett