Gardner Report, Western Washington | third quarter 2012, Volume X IX
Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Western Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Western Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.
As the weather starts to turn in Washington, so do its economy and real estate markets. In all, I was quite pleased with this report inasmuch as it shows, in aggregate, continued improvement on all fronts, but there are headwinds that need to be acknowledged.
The counties included within this report increased the employment base by 50,000 over the past 12 months. That said, we actually lost 7,300 jobs between Q2 and Q3. At present, I am not too worried about this as I am seeing some wild seasonal fluctuations in some government employment sectors that should be ironed out by year’s end. I will, however, be closely watching the figures over the next couple of months.
As previously stated, between September of 2011 and September of 2012, the area added 50,000 jobs—a 2.3% growth rate, which comfortably exceeded the state and nation. In our region, eight counties expanded their employment base, one remained flat, and seven showed modest contraction (a total of 3,620 jobs were shed in these counties).
Year-over-year, Whatcom County (+4.2%) grew at the greatest rate—I believe this to be due to the value of the Canadian dollar versus the “greenback”! This was followed by Snohomish and King Counties, which both expanded their job base by 3.1%. Job losses in other counties were modest, with San Juan (-5.9%), Grays Harbor (-4.2%), Kittitas (-4.1%), and Jefferson (-3.7%) Counties suffering the largest percentage losses.
When we look at the unemployment rate across the region, all counties—with the exception of San Juan County—saw the unemployment rates drop from a year ago, a trend that we have been seeing since early this year. Inasmuch as this is certainly pleasing, I do note that we have not been seeing any expansion in the civilian workforce which, undoubtedly, is having an effect on the overall unemployment rate.
The latest data is positive but the expansion appears to be losing some steam. As a result, I am going to leave the economy with the “B” grade that I gave it in the last quarter.
It is not unusual that, in an election year, the private sector tempers its hiring until it knows who will be occupying the White House. I believe that this is the case here in Washington as much as it is anywhere else. Whether we will see marked improvement in the fourth quarter is uncertain, however, I feel optimistic that our market will continue to outperform other West Coast markets as well as the U.S. as a whole.