Labor Market & Economy

Labor Market & Economy

Our Labor Market & Economy research is primarily focused on identifying job opportunities in the local labor market that are accessible to individuals who have less than a B.A. degree, understanding the changing wages and skill requirements for these jobs, and identifying the availability of training. We also seek to provide knowledge to the community on specific sectors of the labor market.

OUR LATEST REPORTS

Retaining & Growing Middle-Wage Jobs in Seattle’s Basic Industries: Considerations for the City of Seattle & Other Localities, January 2015 (PDF, 2.7MB)

Executive Summary, January 2015 (PDF, 608KB)

Seattle’s industrial base provides thousands of middle-wage, accessible jobs to the region. The industrial base, which includes sectors such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and transportation, however, is facing heightened pressures as the City of Seattle grows and the economy changes. In this report, Seattle Jobs Initiative looks at the critical role basic industries play in the economy and the challenges the City of Seattle and other cities face in retaining and growing these industries. The research also examines the industrial retention policies and practices the City of Seattle and other cities have used, and offers considerations for how these strategies may be strengthened.

$15 Minimum Wage and the Potential Impacts to Seattle’s Workforce, December 2014 (PDF, 721KB)

In this research brief, Seattle Jobs Initiative identifies and reviews existing empirical research on — and conducts an analysis of — the potential impacts of the $15 minimum wage to various types of workers and industries. This includes:

  • Adjustment channels – the types of workarounds which employers utilize to offset the costs of a minimum-wage increase;
  • Likely impacts on Seattle workers by gender, age, race and ethnicity, English language ability, and educational attainment levels;
  • Impacts on specific industry sectors – particularly the Accommodation & Food Services, Retail Trade and Other Services industry sectors.

Investing in Effective Employment & Training Strategies for English Language Learners: Considerations for the City of Seattle & Other Localities, February 2014 (PDF, 1.4MB)

This research was undertaken to inform the City of Seattle as well as other localities considering strategies to increase the ability of their English Language Learners to succeed in the labor market about:

  • The current needs of English Language Learners for English and job-skill training to advance in the labor market;
  • The individual and systems barriers faced by English Language Learners in securing the additional skills they need to succeed;
  • The three primary programmatic strategies that are being utilized to effectively meet the skill needs of this group;
  • The best practices common to effective workforce programs serving this population; and,
  • Other considerations to weigh in seeking to make impactful investments in the labor market success of English Language Learners.

Transportation & Logistics: Education, Training, and Employment Opportunities for the Seattle Area’s Workforce, December 2013 (PDF, 2.9MB)

Seattle is home to a thriving transportation and logistics industry that accounts for approximately 25 percent of Washington State’s gross domestic product, while 40 percent of all jobs in Washington are either directly or indirectly tied to international trade.

This report provides insight into the following topics around the transportation and logistics industry of the Seattle area:

  • Employment changes over the last twenty years, particularly during The Great Recession
  • Younger workers and their presence in the industry’s workforce
  • Labor productivity gains and employment shifts
  • Concentration of industry subsectors relative to the rest of the United States
  • Educational attainment of the industry’s workforce
  • Middle-wage job opportunities
  • Supply and demand of skilled workers
  • Employer perspective of their hiring needs and current practices

Certificate Programs and Their Economic Value: A Look at King County Postsecondary Institutions, September 2013 (PDF, 2.3MB)

SJI works with local community colleges to creatively align our education and training programs with viable career opportunities. Many sub-baccalaureate certificates, of varying lengths and fields of study, have been awarded through these programs to better assist participants on their journey to living-wage careers.

Through this research, SJI seeks to inform workforce development providers about the varying characteristics of certificates in King County. Namely, we discuss the number of certificates awarded and how that has changed in the last twenty years as well as the demographic makeup of certificate holders. Additionally, we look at the characteristics of short- and long-term certificates and the outcomes they produce. And lastly, we identify education and training programs in King County which provide students with opportunities to attain certificates leading to a viable career.

The Importance of Soft Skills in Entry-Level Employment and Postsecondary Success: Perspectives from Employers and Community Colleges, January 2013 (PDF, 2MB)

Executive Summary, January 2013 (PDF, 541KB)

In SJI’s long history of working closely with employers to ensure that we are helping them get the skilled workers they need, they have continued to communicate how important soft skills are to entry-level employment, and how frequently these skills are lacking among job seekers.

Through this unique research, SJI’s goal is to provide the data to support this evidence on the importance of soft skills, both to entry-level employment and to the completion of college programs.

  • Middle-Wage Jobs

    The focus of Seattle Jobs Initiative’s labor market research over the past several years has been on identifying “middle-wage jobs” in Seattle/King County and the Puget Sound. Comprising about a quarter of all jobs in the local labor market, middle-wage jobs are those that are accessible with less than a Bachelor’s degree (while typically requiring some postsecondary education) that also provide opportunities to earn a living wage.

    • 2017 Middle-Wage Jobs Update, February 2017 (PDF, 205KB)
      In 2017, Seattle Jobs Initiative produced the Middle-Wage Jobs in Seattle/King County 2017 Update. This brief presents information about the income earned by residents of the Seattle/King County region, as well as the amount of money it takes to live in this area, to inform our definition of a middle-wage job. Furthermore, the brief identifies middle-wage jobs that are in-demand in the region, including the gender and racial make-up of workers in those positions.
    • 2011 Middle-Wage Jobs Data Update, December 2011 (PDF, 472KB)
      In 2011, Seattle Jobs Initiative produced the 2011 Middle-Wage Jobs Data Update, the latest in a series of research  completed over the past few years to identify and track middle-wage job opportunities in the Seattle-King County region that are accessible to individuals with less than a BA degree. This report examines the nature of this category of job opportunities and how it has changed over the last four years. Specifically, it highlights occupations that have maintained their middle-wage status through the rough economic terrain, and examines the strength of these opportunities based on both job and wage growth.
    • Skills Required: STEM, May 2010 (PDF, 528KB)
      In 2010, SJI released more research delving in the middle-wage job opportunities available in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This report examines the growing attention and efforts in STEM with the goal of providing a foundation of knowledge about the varied occupations and industries that depend on these skills for successful regional and national economic and workforce development. In addition, it examines the potential for middle-wage opportunities in STEM, highlights local training opportunities, and provides recommendations and areas for further consideration to expand these opportunities for low-income working adults.
    • Middle-Wage Jobs Industry Data Series, December 2010
      This suite of data fact sheets update some of the industry-specific occupations identified as middle-wage jobs, taking into consideration the far-reaching effects of the Great Recession. These fact sheets highlight definitions of industries and occupations, as well as identify current employment, future projections, and potential employers supporting these industries in the Seattle-King County region.

    • Skills Required: Preparing the Puget Sound for Tomorrow’s Middle-Wage Jobs, March 2008 (PDF, 312KB)
      In 2008, SJI released the report Skills Required: Preparing the Puget Sound for Tomorrow’s Middle-Wage Jobs, highlighting the accessible employment opportunities available in key industry sectors in the Puget Sound region. This report confirms that middle-wage jobs — those that pay a livable wage and require some training beyond high school but not a four-year degree — are and will continue to support key industries in our area.
  • Industry Sector Reports

    Industry Sector Snapshot: Manufacturing, January 2014 (PDF, 401KB)

    Seattle Jobs Initiative is pleased to present our latest industry sector snapshot on the manufacturing sector in King County. A once thriving sector lost nearly 11,000 jobs during the Great Recession. Employment is still not restored to its pre-recession levels, but job growth has been improving since the recession’s end. As manufacturing jobs come back to King County, this brief snapshot seeks to capture where those opportunities lie for low-income, low-skill adults.

    Industry Sector Snapshot: Healthcare, November 2013 (PDF, 594KB)

    This brief overview identifies the healthcare industry’s current trends within the King County labor market in an effort to provide the workforce development community with answers to questions like:

    • How many people are employed by the industry?
    • Did the Great Recession cause a decline in employment growth?
    • What are the necessary skills and qualifications necessary to be competitive in the healthcare workforce?
    • With such a highly educated workforce, are middle-wage jobs available? If so, what are they?

    Industry Sector Snapshot: Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, June 2013 (PDF, 905KB)

    This brief overview identifies the trade, transportation, and utilities industry’s current trends within the King County labor market in an effort to provide the workforce development community with answers to questions like:

    • How has the industry’s job growth improved since the end of the Great Recession?
    • How does the industry measure up relative to other industries in the area?
    • Which occupations host the top middle-wage job opportunities now and into the foreseeable future?
    • How and where can an individual acquire the necessary skills to obtain a job within the industry?
    • What are the top businesses that employ the industry’s workforce?

    Industry Sector Snapshot: Professional & Business Services, March 2013 (PDF, 868KB)

    This brief overview identifies the professional and business services industry’s current trends within the King County labor market in an effort to provide the workforce development community with answers to questions like:

    • How has the industry’s job growth improved since the end of the Great Recession?
    • How does the industry measure up relative to other industries in the area?
    • Which occupations host the top middle-wage job opportunities now and into the foreseeable future?
    • How can an individual acquire the necessary skills to obtain a job within the industry?

    Understanding King County’s Manufacturing Sector: Preparing Our Workforce for Good Job Opportunities, October 2012 (PDF, 2MB)

    Executive Summary, October 2012 (PDF, 540KB)

    Released in October 2012, Understanding King County’s Manufacturing Sector: Preparing Our Workforce for Good Job Opportunities identifies trends in the local manufacturing industry in the past, present, and future in an effort to prepare the King County workforce for well-paying job opportunities.

    Through this research, SJI’s intent is to inform workforce development providers about which manufacturing subsectors offer stability currently and in the next five to ten years. We measure stability by not only the number of jobs available, but also by the productivity levels of the industry and its subsectors. In addition, our goal is to identify middle-wage job opportunities within the manufacturing industry, as well as training opportunities for these positions.

    JOB TRENDS REPORTS

    Seattle Jobs Initiative’s Job Trends Reports provide important local workforce development information relevant to helping Seattle/King County residents gain access to skills and education leading to well-paying work. The reports offer basic analysis of key employment and industry job growth trends for the region, with each report focused on a specific sector and local training opportunities for occupations within that sector.

  • Entry-Level Jobs

    Entry-Level Job Requirements: An Assessment of Seattle-Area Employers, January 2013 (PDF, 865KB)

    Authored by Northwest Social Research Group, this research is a follow-up to SJI’s 2012 report Changes in Entry-Level Jobs over the Past Decade.

    In a survey of 85 employers — and in follow-up interviews — we asked the following key questions:

    • How do employers define “entry-level” at their businesses?
    • What hourly wages are employers currently paying their entry-level workers?
    • What level of education is required for most entry-level positions at local businesses?
    • Is there a difference between job requirements and actual educational attainment of incumbent workers within entry-level positions?  If so, is this difference economy-driven and cyclical, or systemic?
    • What is the comparative value of degrees, certificates and job experience in employers’ hiring decisions for entry-level positions?
    • What additional factors give applicants for entry-level positions an edge in getting hired?

    Seattle Jobs Initiative is pleased to present our latest labor market research, Changes in Entry-Level Jobs over the Past Decade, authored by Northwest Social Research Group. The research defines “entry-level jobs” and examines whether skill requirements for entry-level occupations in four key sectors — Professional/Business Services, Logistics, Healthcare, and Manufacturing — have changed over the past decade in the Seattle/King County region.

    Our objective through this research is to inform local workforce development stakeholders (community-based organizations, community colleges, government agencies, policymakers, etc.) seeking to ensure that workforce programs — particularly those targeting low-skill individuals — continue to meet the skill and education requirements necessary for these jobs.

  • Emerging Sectors

    Seattle Jobs Initiative occasionally will examine industry sectors that are emerging in the local economy. Our primary objective with this research is to determine whether these sectors are likely to provide a significant number of middle-wage jobs.

    • A Growing Green Economy: Opportunities of Tomorrow, April 2009 (PDF, 328KB)
      In April 2009, SJI completed a report for the National Network of Sector Partners on the growing green economy and sector strategies related to this growth. A Growing Green Economy: Opportunities of Tomorrow provides a foundation of knowledge about emerging green sectors, with particular emphasis on the Puget Sound region and the energy efficiency sector. Topics covered include policy, investment, labor marketing impacts and training opportunities. The work culminates in recommendations for others who are interested in doing similar research and development in emerging green sectors. Funding support was provided by NNSP and the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development.