Career Center Blog

July 25, 2011

McGinn initiatives may give Seattle job creation a nudge


A year and a half into Mike McGinn's term as mayor of Seattle, he hasn't made a lot of friends. His continued opposition to the downtown tunnel project, his tough stance on downtown parking and his environmental activism have made him pariah in the eyes of many in the local business community and organized labor. A recent poll pegged his popularity among the voting public at an anemic 45 percent.

But you can't criticize "Bikin' Mike" for lack of effort. He has backed up a lot of his populist rhetoric with ambitious plans that would radically alter the look of Seattle and transform the way the city functions. At the same time, many of his proposals in this month alone contain elements that may end up adding new employment opportunities for job seekers.

First of all, the mayor has been buoyed somewhat by some good news released last week from the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD). Thanks to a revision from last month's preliminary estimate for job creation in May (instead of losing 700 jobs that month, we actually gained 2,500), the state has now posted net job gains for 10 consecutive months, including about 3,600 new private-sector jobs in June. That's pretty fantastic news, considering how fragile the nation's recovery has been recently.

Besides the large 3,700-job jump in the catch-all ESD category of "other services," some of the other industry sectors that led the growth in June include manufacturing (up 1,300 jobs, mostly in aerospace); transportation, warehousing and utilities ( 1,300); professional and business services (1,200); wholesale trade (1,200); retail trade (900); information (700); and leisure and hospitality (200).

"Our state had a surprisingly solid month, compared to the disappointing national employment situation for June," said ESD commissioner Paul Trause, in a prepared statement. The ESD report also pointed out that between June 2010 and June 2011 Washington state has added 42,300 new jobs overall. During the same period, the private sector has grown by 2.9 percent, adding 57,800 jobs, which represent roughly a quarter of the estimated 206,000 jobs lost in our state during the Great Recession.

With this encouraging news as a backdrop, Mayor McGinn has proposed the following initiatives in July that may end up helping Seattle job seekers even more:

Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance -- On Thursday, McGinn signed a new law that allows mobile food vendors to set up in more locations across Seattle. Now, the city's trendy and thriving food vans can buy a permit to park curbside in designated "food vehicle zones" in all commercial areas and can serve a much wider array of cuisine, as long as they adhere to the city health code. Previously, the vans were restricted to parking only on private property and serving limited fare, such as hotdogs, popcorn and coffee.

The broadened regulations, which will go into effect next month, should spur business growth and encourage more job creation, especially for the "immigrant and refugee communities," McGinn said, which often have used food vending as a lucrative "point of entry" into the local economy. After establishing a loyal following, many mobile vendors, such as Skillet and Marination, are now expanding to become permanent restaurants.

Reform for Construction Projects -- Together with Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin and several developers and neighborhood activists, McGinn proposed a reform package on July 8 that would streamline regulations to make it easier to move forward on new construction projects. One improvement to the environmental review process, for example, would help expedite as many as 40 languishing construction projects across the city and create up to 2,400 new skilled construction jobs, according to the Seattle Building Trades Council.

"We are starting to see some construction activity pick up in Seattle," McGinn said of the proposal. "That's good news for our local economy, but we need to do more. These recommendations highlight ways we can reduce red tape and encourage job growth while enhancing our commitment to the environment." The plan is currently going through a review process and may be decided by late August.

Seattle Nightlife Initiative -- OK, this might be a bit of a stretch, I'll admit. Under this plan (which wouldn't take effect until 2012, if it is approved at all), Seattle's nightclub and bar owners would be allowed to remain open beyond the current 2 a.m. cutoff - until perhaps as late as 5 a.m. - and may enable some local jurisdictions to stagger their closing times so that the streets are not flooded with bar patrons all at once.

While this ordinance is meant to increase flexibility for businesses to meet customer demands and to relieve the pressure on law enforcement at closing time, it may also have a positive effect on job creation. With later hours, not only will these establishments make more money from their late-night patrons, they will also need to add extended shifts and, possibly, add more people to their staff.

Not all of these proposals cater to the types of high-paying, stable jobs that Seattle so desperately needs. But they do show that for many of McGinn's seemingly pie-in-the-sky proposals to transform the city's street life, he is at least thinking of the effects they will have on the 8.8 percent of Seattle's population that is currently looking for work.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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This is little more than a press release for McGinn. He sucks! Readers deserve better. He has wasted an amazing amount of money and I for one can't wait to vote him out of office.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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