Washington Unemployment Drops to 8.2 Percent

 
 

Washington’s job seekers got bitter sweet news from the state’s Employment Security Department in February.  The state added 4,200 jobs, which is good news, but the new jobs are likely to trigger a cut in federal unemployment benefits.

 

The new jobs pushed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 8.2 percent in February, from 8.4 percent in January. That's the lowest it's been since January 2009, when it was 7.7 percent, according to the state’s Employment Security Department.

 

The top growth sectors were:

 

  • Leisure and hospitality, up 2,500 jobs,  
  • Construction, up 1,900 jobs,
  • Retail trade, up 1,700 jobs,
  • Transportation warehousing and utilities up 1,500 jobs and
  • Professional and business services up 1,100 jobs.

 

As hiring increased, unemployment benefits are slated to decrease, since the two variables are connected, under the federal benefits-extension programs.  

 

Beneficiaries are likely to see their maximum number of weeks on the program drop from 99 to 73 in mid- to late April, according to the Employment Security Department. The same department plans to release more details about the trimming, as it gets official notice from the federal Department of Labor.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.