Job creation is emerging as a top issue in Washington’s open race for governor. But the two leading candidates often cite different jobs figures. The state’s official unemployment rate is currently 8.1 percent. Republican candidate Rob McKenna though uses a much higher number.
Washington’s unemployment rate has been getting incrementally better. But that monthly snapshot only captures people who are out of work and actively looking for a job. There’s an alternative way to evaluate the employment situation in Washington. That’s to use the federal government’s so called U-6 rate. That figure is 17.6 percent. State economist Dave Wallace says part-time workers are the biggest driver behind that more grim number.
Dave Wallace: “So what it appears in Washington state, we have large of numbers of persons that would like to be working full time but are accepting part time work in lieu of that.”
In the governor’s race, Republican Rob McKenna almost exclusively uses the 17 percent figure. Democrat Jay Inslee usually sticks with the official unemployment rate because he thinks it’s more reliable. But through a campaign spokesperson he adds “far too many people in Washington are unemployed or underemployed.”
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
On the web: Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://stats.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm