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OLYMPIA – A small improvement in the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate began in February and was matched in March, according to revised and preliminary estimates by economists with the state’s Employment Security Department.

Earlier this year, economists estimated Washington’s February unemployment rate at 6.4 percent. A subsequent revision reduced that rate to 6.3 percent, which was equaled in March.

The pace of hiring also has quickened. Washington employers added an estimated 6,700 new jobs in March. read more »


By Ginette Dalton  read more »


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment increased from September 2012 to September 2013 in 286 of the 334 largest U.S. counties, including a pair in the South Sound.

Pierce County, per the BLS, ended last September with roughly 274,000 jobs, a 2.1 percent increase from the same month in 2012. That’s good for 114th in job growth among the nation’s largest counties.

Thurston’s year over year job growth rate of 2.3 percent — ending September 2013 with about 100,100 jobs, was good for 97th. read more »


Every day, startups and entrepreneurs across Washington develop exciting new products and services that might benefit consumers. Of course there are no guarantees. Any two-guys-in-a-garage idea could lead to brilliant commercial success or miserable failure, but there is no way to know until the new product or service is tested in the real-world marketplace. All these would-be profitable business owners face a basic problem (unless they are already wealthy) - raising enough money to get started.

The people behind any startup are usually untried and hold few assets, so they often can’t secure a bank loan, and their nascent project isn’t big enough to incorporate and launch a conventional IPO. One answer is crowdfunding, leveraging the connecting power of the internet to collect small contributions from a wide variety of people at very low transaction costs. The method can be used to finance nonprofit or for-profit projects. Either way, using crowdfunding to raise money is popular, simple and voluntary. read more »


Office supplies chain Staples announced plans Thursday to shut down more than 10 percent of its stores, according to an Associated Press story. The company will close up to 225 of its 1,846 stores in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2015, the AP reports.

Though Staples is the nation’s largest office-supply company, nearly half of its sales are online, and the company said the store closures are part of its plan to reduce costs and become more efficient.

The AP report said the company, which has already closed dozens of stores in the past year, did not identify which additional stores will be closed. read more »


OLYMPIA — Washington now has more jobs than before the start of the Great Recession, according to economists with the state’s Employment Security Department.

Employment Security and the U.S. Department of Labor recently completed an annual statistical update, called benchmarking, which adjusted past estimates with jobs data from employers’ quarterly tax filings.

The latest benchmarking indicates the state didn’t lose as many jobs as originally thought and, furthermore, has more than recovered those job losses. Previous data suggested the state lost about 205,000 jobs from February 2008 through February 2010. Economists now believe the losses were around 189,000. read more »

Retirement Lifestyles

You need to save and invest as much as possible to pay for the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned. But your retirement income also depends, to a certain degree, on how your retirement funds are taxed. And that’s why you may be interested in tax diversification.

To understand the concept of tax diversification, you’ll need to be familiar with how two of the most important retirement-savings vehicles — an IRA and a 401(k) — are taxed. Essentially, these accounts can be classified as either “traditional” or “Roth.”

When you invest in a traditional IRA or 401(k), your contributions may be tax-deductible and your earnings can grow tax-deferred. With a Roth IRA or 401(k), your contributions are not deductible, but your distributions can potentially be tax-free, provided you meet certain conditions. (Keep in mind, though, that to contribute to a Roth IRA, you can’t exceed designated income limits. Also, not all employers offer the Roth option for 401(k) plans.) read more »

Retirement Lifestyles

An affluent client who was quickly approaching age 62 recently asked my opinion about when he and his wife should begin taking Social Security. My initial response was based on much of the analysis I’ve done about how one can actuarially maximize Social Security benefits over two peoples’ lives. By understanding the rules and structuring Social Security in such a way that you are taking full advantage of all of the nuances within the system, a married couple can greatly increase the amount of benefits received over two peoples’ lifetime. Sometimes us geeky number guys are more concerned with the math than the reality of how the choice impacts lifestyle.

This client pointed out that he and his wife have plenty of income from other sources and Social Security will just be an added bonus. He also pointed out that if he used the strategies we teach to maximize his Social Security benefits, it may mean he would receive more money from the Social Security Administration over both of their lifetimes, but most of that additional money would come much later in life. read more »


Nearly 35 million passengers passed through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2013, which set a record for the third consecutive year, the Port of Seattle announced. The number grew almost 5 percent over 2012, the port said.

In addition, international travel grew by more than 10 percent in that same period, according to the port, and air cargo hit a five-year high.

“Sea-Tac Airport continues to be a leading economic engine for our region, and the addition of new routes strengthens our position as a world-class gateway for international and domestic traffic,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. read more »

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