New Report Details Washington State Job Crisis: Shift from Manufacturing to Service Industry Jobs Contributes to Unraveling of Middle Class

Release Date: 
July 21, 2011

Olympia, WA— The national June jobs report showed 200,000 more people joined the unemployment lines. In Washington, unemployment is also rising--as jobs shift rapidly from manufacturing to the service sector--and state tuition/student debt is growing fast. Because of these developments, the state’s low- and middle-income families are particularly threatened.

Download "Under Attack: Washington’s Middle Class and the Job Crisis"

Today national public policy organization Demos and the Washington-based Economic Opportunity Institute released “Under Attack: Washington’s Middle Class and the Job Crisis,” a briefing paper that examines these growing challenges for millions of Washingtonians.

The report outlines how Washingtonians face a lack of good jobs, declining access to benefits, higher costs to raise children, and rising student debt among other troubling trends.

Quick Facts from the Report:

  • Manufacturing employment, which tends to offer better pay and benefits, declined from 22 percent in 1980 to just under 10 percent in 2010, while service employment increased from 30 percent to 43 percent.
  • The average student debt for college graduates in Washington is almost $20,000.
  • Workers’ contributions for family health insurance coverage increased nearly 150 percent between 2000 and 2010 to almost $4,000.

"Rebuilding the middle class is only possible through a real dedication to job creation by government and business," said Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy & Programs at Demos. "Real, immediate investment in education, infrastructure and good jobs now remains the best route to recovery both in the state of Washington and across America.”

“As long as the focus of federal and state policy continues to be on cuts, our economy and real opportunity for working families will not recover,” said Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director, Economic Opportunity Institute. “The economy is continuing to sputter because of cuts in public jobs and public spending at the federal, state, and local levels. We can turn that around by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share for the infrastructure and services that make their wealth possible.”

“There are moments where we’re forced to choose between paying the bills and feeding the kids, we shouldn’t have to do that in today’s world,” said Chris Mugler, an unemployed father from Auburn Washington. “There’s plenty to go around, there should be enough resources to help the people that need it. I think if Americans come together we can take on this problem.”

"I was born in Ethiopia.  I came to this country for better opportunity," said Benyam Kidane, a Seattle port truck driver.  "Unfortunately, the working conditions here are worse than they are in the Third World.  I work hard.  I work long hours, and I play by the rules. But the trucking companies don't follow the same rules. Because they call me an 'independent contractor' I don't get any of the rights that other employees have like minimum wage, workers' compensation, disability benefits, employer-paid Social Security or health and safety protections."  

Contact & RSVP: 

Anna Pycior, apycior@demos.org, (212) 389-1408

Lauren Strayer, lstrayer@demos.org, (734) 904-1704

New Report Details Washington State’s Jobs Crisis

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