Friday Roundup: Trade slap-fights? Washington ag tariff concerns. Metro population dynamics. Oregon job polarization.

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Associated Press: US vs. China: a ‘slap-fight,’ not a trade war. So far. 

“We’re in a trade slap-fight right now,” not a trade war, said Derek Scissors, resident scholar and China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

China is a relatively insignificant supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. And the $3 billion in U.S. products that Beijing targeted Monday amount to barely 2 percent of American goods exported to China.

Associated Press: Washington state apple, cherry industries wary of trade war

Cherry and apple growers in Washington state are worried their exports to China will be hurt by a growing trade war that escalated Monday when that country raised import duties on a $3 billion list of products.

China buys Washington-grown cherries, apples and pears, which are all included in the trade dispute.

 City Journal: What the Census Numbers Tell Us
New York’s population slowdown is hardly unique. Many of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas have seen domestic outmigration surge over the last few years. The highest-percentage declines were found in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and, remarkably, tech-heavy San Jose, which ranked worst among 53 metropolitan areas with populations above 1 million. Last year, the San Francisco Bay Area’s seven metros experienced outmigration more than ten times higher than the annual average since 2010…
Last year’s growth leaders among the large metros were located heavily in the dispersed metros of the Sun Belt and intermountain West—Austin, Las Vegas, Dallas–Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, Tampa–St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Jacksonville. Among metros with more than 500,000 people, Seattle is the only one in the Top 25 located on either the West Coast or the Northeast—and it comes in at number 25.
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis: Oregon Job Polarization, 2017 Update
As the economic expansion matures and the labor market tightens, it brings along with it the feel-good part of the business cycle. Wages and household incomes are rising while poverty rates are dropping. Employment has picked up in rural areas even as it slows in the large, urban centers that turned around first following the recession. Additionally, employment prospects are up for all levels of educational attainment. Now, in keeping with this pattern we’re finally seeing good growth again among middle-wage jobs here in Oregon the past few years. No longer is the economy only creating high- and low-wage jobs like it was early in the recovery. In fact, according to the latest occupational data released last week by BLS, Oregon’s middle-wage jobs in 2017 grew at a faster pace (2.8%) than both high-wage (1.4%) and low-wage (2.0%) jobs. This marked the largest middle-wage increase in the past 15 years, just edging out 2006’s gains.

After years of pleading with the state Legislature for more state funding, Washington’s 39 counties could decide this year whether to file a lawsuit against the state over unfunded mandates.

“We’re managing on the edge of risk,” said Eric Johnson, executive director of the Washington Association of Counties, in an interview Thursday on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program. “I think [the counties] feel backed into a corner with no other option at this point.”

Daily Sun (Kris Johnson op-ed): Legislature leaves important work for 2019

Early in the legislative session, lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement for a permanent fix to the state Supreme Court’s “Hirst” water rights ruling and passed the state’s capital construction budget. These were issues left undone during the prior session and both issues are crucial to economic development, particularly in rural and underserved regions of the state.

We also appreciated the Legislature’s continued investments in education to meet the state Supreme Court McCleary education funding ruling. However, it remains to be seen how those investments – made through an unusual budget move that lessens our rainy-day reserve account – impact future budgets.

These, and a couple other measures to address workforce development, are positive outcomes that will benefit communities and families across Washington.

However, we are disappointed legislators did not do more to support the state’s manufacturing sector, which is losing ground to other sectors, including government.

NAM: Manufacturers Added 22,000 Workers in March, With Continued Robust Hiring Growth in the Sector

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturers added 22,000 workers in March, extending the 32,000 gain in employment in February. It was the sixth consecutive month with robust hiring growth in the sector, averaging 27,167 per month over that time frame.

As such, the latest jobs numbers confirm that the labor market has tightened significantly, with manufacturers increasing employment by a rather robust 18,733 per month on average since the end of 2016. That is quite a turnaround from the sluggish job growth in 2016, and it is a sign that firms have continued to accelerate their hiring as the economic outlook has strengthened and demand and production have improved considerably. Indeed, manufacturers have told us that challenges in recruiting new workers is their primary business concern right now.