Washington state's unemployment rate falls to 7.6 percent in December from 7.7 percent the month before.

 
 

Washington’s estimated unemployment rate reached its lowest point in four years in December, at 7.6 percent, down from a revised seasonally adjusted rate of 7.7 percent in November, according to Washington's Employment Security Department.  The original estimate for November was 7.8 percent.

Here's the rest of the press release:

An Employment Security Department economist cautions that recent declines in the unemployment rate have been due largely to a shrinking labor force, as unemployed job seekers stop looking for work.

The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that’s unemployed and actively looking for work. People who quit looking for work are not counted as part of the labor force when calculating the unemployment rate.

“Our population is growing and we’ve regained more than half of the jobs lost during the recession, but the number of people in the labor force has been declining,” said Joe Elling, chief labor economist for Employment Security. “When the labor force shrinks, it artificially lowers the unemployment rate.”

The total number of employed and unemployed workers in Washington has fallen 60,000 since employment reached its low point in February 2010, about half of that in the past year. Meanwhile, the total number of jobs has grown by about 115,000 in the past three years, out of a recession loss of about 205,000 jobs.

Preliminary data for December 2012 showed a preliminary, seasonally adjusted drop of 7,900 jobs. But Elling said there was weak response to the employer survey in December, and the number may be revised when late-arriving data are factored in.

Industries with the most estimated job gains in December were construction, up 3,100; leisure and hospitality, up 1,400; education and health services, up 500; and wholesale trade, up 200.

Industries showing the most job losses last month included government, down 4,700 jobs; retail trade, down 4,100 jobs; professional and business services, down 1,900; other services, down 1,500; and manufacturing, down 900.

In December, an estimated 262,500 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 148,264 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

Also in December, 4,186 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 125,627 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

On Reflection: Corporate Game Changer

On Reflection: Corporate Game Changer

Gamification software from a UW startup makes biz-school case studies more authentic.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Imagine you’re the CEO of an airline in crisis. Customers and shareholders are unhappy. Your employees have just gone on strike. What do you do? Give in to union demands? Hold your ground and negotiate? Fire all the employees? 

It’s the first of a cascading set of decisions you must make in The Signature Case Study, a new interactive game developed by Seattle-based Recurrence (recurrenceinc.com) in partnership with the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking (CLST). Players take one of five C-suite roles and each player’s decision changes the options available to the others and affects their total scores based on employee, shareholder and customer satisfaction.

The Signature Case Study takes the case-study method, a paper-based system pioneered by the Harvard Business School, and uses game techniques to make it more entertaining and accessible while also giving students and teachers immediate feedback on the quality of their decision making.

Data on 19 variables derived from real airlines on things like lost luggage, fuel costs, stock prices and customer satisfaction are built into algorithms that drive the game and can result in thousands of academically validated outcomes.

CEO and co-inventor Brayden Olson named the company after Friedrich Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence, the notion that all life will repeat itself through eternity. The interactive case study, he says, allows people to learn from mistakes and develop critical thinking skills that improve their judgment so they won’t make similar mistakes in real life.

While traditional case studies depend heavily on the skills of professors to engage students, The Signature Game Study’s software uses game elements to require interactivity, says co-inventor Bruce Avolio, a professor of management at the UW’s Foster School of Business and executive director of CLST.

The game shows players how decisions made early on can narrow their course of action down the road. They also learn the importance of teamwork to overcome the toughest challenges. “Great games can be both more fun and more challenging,” says Avolio, who sits on Recurrence’s board of directors.

The product, released early this year, has already been adopted at more than 30 schools, including the UW, Stanford, Penn State, Johns Hopkins and the University of Texas, to teach leadership, organizational behavior and strategy. The cases sell for $47.50 per student; Recurrence is looking to add cases in areas such as operations, finance, marketing and entrepreneurship. It’s also working with the University of Alabama nursing school to develop a case study to teach such skills as diagnosis and health care management.

With more than 15,000 business schools in the world, Olson says the market is huge. He notes that publishers of printed case studies are selling 12 million a year, but they recognize that the interactive case study is the future and are looking for Recurrence’s assistance in developing them.