Northwest states had some of the best, and worst, job creation for the year.

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December unemployment in Washington was a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent, down 0.6 points year over year. It was still higher than the national rate — 4.1 percent — but the lowest jobless rate for the state since at least the mid-1970s, when record-keeping was standardized. You can thank Obama, Trump, Bernanke, Yellen or the business cycle, whichever church you choose.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state added 68,500 jobs over the year, up 2.1 percent, to bring the civilian labor force to nearly 3.4 million. The data are preliminary. According to the Census Bureau, Washington’s population increased almost 125,000.

Nationally, Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate in December, at 2 percent. In the Pacific Northwest: Alaska at 7.3 percent was the nation’s highest; Idaho, 2.9 percent, and Oregon, 4.1 percent. Alaska is still suffering from the collapse of oil prices. In Oregon, unemployment spiked to 11.9 percent in May 2009, but dropped to 3.7 percent this past May, even as the population expanded. Oregon’s rate remains at a historic low.

For the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan division, unemployment was a stable 3.8 percent. The division added about 6,000 jobs year-over-year.

My guess as to the lower unemployment rate compared with previous cycles (next best was 4.6 percent in May-June 2007) is the continued diversification of the economy away from a dependence on manufacturing and extraction. Both of the latter sectors are more sensitive to the business cycle. I welcome your theories in the comments section.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Cocktails at Starbucks?

Sprinkles in my martini

Green-apron bouncer