Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Local breaking business news prepared by Business Examiner staff.

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Washington’s unemployment rate up in May
Father’s Day sales on the rise
Construction materials costs edge up
People on the move
Business school is always in session at BE
BE part of the conversation
Washington’s unemployment rate up in May
Washington’s unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent in May, tying the U.S. unemployment rate, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“The economic numbers are volatile right now, and at times contradictory,” said Dr. Greg Weeks, who heads Employment Security’s labor-market information office. “The recession has been deep and wide, and we’re likely to see ups and downs for awhile.”

The state’s employers cut another 6,700 nonfarm jobs, which contributed to the increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from April’s revised rate of 9 percent.

The largest monthly declines were in construction, which lost 3,100 jobs; information, down 1,300; financial activities, down 1,100; and government, down 1,200 jobs. The industry sector with a significant increase was leisure and hospitality, which added 1,600 jobs.

The state lost 116,000 jobs from May 2008 to May 2009, a 3.9 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 3.9 percent during the past year. An estimated 327,430 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in May, with about 215,218 receiving unemployment benefits.

Father’s Day sales on the rise
Despite the economic downturn and general retail sales plummeting, this Father’s Day looks as though it will mean dads are going to be more dandyman than handyman, as sales of pamper items and services are expected to increase 35.7 percent, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.

Although cologne, massages and brushes only accounts for a small portion of total Father’s Day spending, pampering products are emerging as this holiday’s fastest growing gift category with consumers expected to spend $190 million compared to $140 million in 2008.

Still topping the list is spending on special outings, followed by clothing and electronics. Overall spending will be down by more than 75 million dollars compared to last year with Americans set to spend $9 billion on their fathers this year.

Construction materials costs edge up
After eight months of decline, prices of construction materials increased 0.5 percent in May, according to the Producer Price Index report by the U.S. Labor Department. However, prices are still down by 5.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Construction materials trending higher include fabricated ferrous wire, up 0.5 percent, marking the first increase since October of last year. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 0.1 percent. Prices for prepared asphalt and tar roofing are 1.3 percent higher from April, and up 40.4 percent from a year ago. Plumbing fixtures and fittings prices were unchanged on a monthly basis and are up 0.6 percent from May 2008.

In contrast, prices for fabricated structural metal products continue to decrease, down 0.7 percent from April and down 2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Softwood lumber prices dropped 2.1 percent from April and are down 18.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“The monthly increase in construction materials prices was not entirely unexpected, but it is still cause for concern,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The U.S. construction economy remains quite soft in many key segments, including both the office and commercial categories. For these construction segments to rebound, there must be a combination of positive factors including well-behaved interest rates, reasonably priced construction materials and spreading economic momentum and prosperity. From a broader prospective, any additional increase in construction materials prices would be most unwelcome given the nation’s ongoing efforts to address its infrastructure needs.”

People on the move
Greg Richards, Automotive Collision Repair instructor at Clover Park Technical College has been asked to speak at an upcoming I-CAR webinar regarding a class taught at Clover Park Technical College. Targeted at autobody shops in the Pacific Northwest, the webinar will focus on the use of waterborne coatings ñ the next generation of automotive paint. Richards is the only college representative with an audience of as many as 1,000 online participants.

HomeStreet Bank has hired Vickie Robello as a mortgage loan officer at its Olympia branch.

A participant in the upcoming Breast Cancer 3-Day walk will sell a pink street sweeper at an unreserved auction in Olympia this week and put half the proceeds towards her team’s fundraising efforts. Tina McDonough, the owner of One.7, Inc., the largest used sweeper dealer in the nation, will sell the pink street sweeper at the unreserved public auction being conducted by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, which will also donate its commission and any additional fees from the street sweeper’s sale to the breast cancer fundraiser.

Pierce Commercial Bank of Tacoma has announced the arrival of Scot Ellis as a loan officer in its expanding Residential Lending team. Ellis has more than 32 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. In his position, he will be responsible for the origination of home loans and serving the local community and realtor network in securing home loans for clients. 

The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound Board of Directors has approved scholarships for 28 graduating seniors and 18 continuing college students. The 2009 awards total $113,400 and range from $300 to $10,000 each. School counselors, Foundation board members and community volunteers selected the young people to receive awards.

The Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center will soon be opening its doors to welcome the Gig Harbor community to a facility that will offer a variety of community uses. To be ready to meet the community’s needs on day one, Jo Ann Maxwell has been hired as the new director of the center. Maxwell began her career as a teacher in Colorado, where she taught physical education. She also organized the local Special Olympics program in seven sports and coordinated many statewide competitions.

During the national conference of Boys & Girls Club employees and board members, three local branches received awards. The Lakewood Branch received the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National 2009 Merit Award for the Fine Arts Program after it established a drama club. The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound also received the Partnership Award, for its partnership with neighboring military youth centers and superior service to the children of military personnel. The final award the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound received was in a category titled, Inspire Someone: Closing the Gift. It was a process that incorporated the organizations Board Chairman Greg Paine and the Vice President of Development Judy Hosea. As a team the two performed on stage at the 2009 Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Conference before a panel of judges, giving a mock presentation of how to approach someone and invite them to be a donor and become more involved within the organization.

Submit items for People on the move ó including promotions, recognitions and new hires ó to news@businessexaminer.com.

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The Business Examiner has free a feature on its Web site that showcases expert advice from the PBS show Small Business School as well as links to free access to full-length shows featuring a range of business topics. New tips will be added each business day.

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