Heated economy in Seattle, Everett and Bellevue has employers working hard to fill jobs

With the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett-area unemployment rate at a 9-year low, and the statewide jobless rate at a historical bottom, a government labor economist says, “We are in a job seeker’s market.”

At a job fair last month in Seattle, Karin Smario spent several hours intently searching — not for a job, but for workers.

Smario, who heads human resources for the Westin and W hotels in Bellevue, had 50 open positions. She hoped to fill some at the hiring event across the lake in downtown Seattle, but as she acknowledged, “There’s a lot of competition for hospitality talent.”

Between the hotel-building boom in Bellevue and all the restaurants in the Greater Seattle area, the crunch that began three or four years ago has accelerated this year, she said.

Jobs added in Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area over 12 months through April:

+46,200up 2.8 percent — the third highest in the nation.

Rise in median hourly wage, 2012-2015:

+10.5% in King County. +5.2% in Washington state

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Employment Security Department

It’s gotten to the point where Tamara Murphy, owner/chef at Seattle’s Terra Plata restaurant, recently bemoaned on Facebook: “I’d give my right pinkie up for an awesome dishwasher. Where did they all go?”

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With the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett-area unemployment rate at a 9-year low, and the statewide jobless rate at a historical bottom, restaurants and hotels aren’t the only ones scrambling to find enough workers.

“We are in a job-seeker’s market,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist with the state Employment Security Department. “Job seekers are finding it easier to secure employment, and employers are in a position of needing to compete with other employers for qualified candidates.”

Proof: It’s not unusual these days in Seattle and the Eastside to find job postings…

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