Last year, more than 5,000 Microsofties lost their jobs, according to a Seattle Times database. So did 3,400 employees of the bank formerly known as Washington Mutual along with 697 Macy's workers. It's all contributed to our state's ever-increasing unemployment rate, which hit a new high of 9.5 percent last month, the Employment Security Division announced today.
Legislation at the Federal and State level aims to change that. The U.S. Senate is supposed to send a jobs-creation bill to the president tomorrow and in Olympia, Gov. Chris Gregoire is pushing a similar measure during the special session. The only problem for all those unemployed techies, bankers and clothing sellers? The bills heavily favor construction work.
Similarly Governor Gregoire's proposed legislation, would give all businesses that hire out of the unemployment line a tax break. But additional incentives--subsidies for major capitol projects and a plan to hire workers to retrofit government buildings for improved energy efficiency--favor builders.
State Employment Security Division spokesperson Sheryl Hutchison says that's because the state has lost more jobs from the construction industry than any other individual sector. It's down 31 percent, a total of 64,000 jobs gone, since the recession hit Washington state in Feb. 2008, according to Hutchison. She adds that construction work pays well and building infrastructure can help out other industries.
Still, the lost construction work is only a third of the 190,000 total jobs that disappeared from Washington over the last two years. But that's where the money is going. So if you were laid off by the 'Soft last year, you might want to hit the gym.