Friday Roundup: Worker shortage, back to full employment, Seattle income tax, budget progress in Olympia

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:

New York Times: Lack of Workers, Not Work, Weighs on the Nation’s Economy

Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4 percent, well below the level that economists consider “full employment,” the normal churn of people quitting to find new jobs. The rate in some cities, like Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo., is even lower, at 2 percent…

But labor shortages are weighing on overall economic growth, slowing the pace of expansion in northern Utah and other fast-growing regions even as unemployment remains stubbornly high in Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and in regions still recovering from the 2008 recession, like inland California.

Puget Sound Business Journal: Steve Ballmer warns voters of Seattle income tax fallout

“I’m not saying it’s a mistake, it’s something that voters need to think about in aggregate, not just one man’s opinion,” [Ballmer] said. “But the analysis is right. There will be fewer jobs here with an income tax than there would without an income tax.”

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis: States at Full Employment, A Prime-Age EPOP Story

Focusing just on the prime working-age population is a really good way to strip out the impact of the aging demographics…Right now, across the nation the employment rate (or employment-population ratio, or EPOP for short) for this group is 2 percentage points lower than prior to the Great Recession…

As the labor market gets tight firms must cast a wider net when hiring. They must dig a bit deeper into the resume stack and hire those with an incomplete skill set or a gap in their resume due to long-term unemployment and the like. That’s happening nationally and here in Oregon. I expect it to happen in Idaho too. Montana and Washington are seeing some of these same trends, albeit their prime-age EPOP isn’t back nearly as much.

Seattle Times: No agreement yet: Washington Legislature goes into second special session

In a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Inslee also showed signs of compromise with Senate Republicans in the effort to resolve the expensive and politically complicated task of funding Washington’s school system…

In his remarks, the governor effectively took a proposed tax on capital gains — favored by himself and House Democrats — off the table.