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Association of Washington Business – Updated Weekly

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Employers seek work readiness, technical skills, survey shows

survey results

Skills in demand: What types of skills are employers having the most difficulty finding in new hires? Twenty-six percent said work readiness skills, such as punctuality and meeting workplace expectations, according to AWB’s quarterly employer survey, conducted in April and May.

  • 25% said technical skills for manufacturing, and 22% said technical skills for other industries

Uncertainty still high: Fewer employers think Washington’s economy is headed for a recession compared to a year ago (28% down from 44%). Still, 44% remain unsure on that question, the latest survey shows.

Expansion, hiring plans: Looking ahead, employers generally plan to keep headcount the same, in line with recent surveys.

  • 19% plan to increase employment, down from 22% over the winter

Inflation sticking around: Rising prices are still hitting Washington employers hard, even as inflation has moderated from a year ago.

  • 20% ranked inflation as the top challenge facing their business, followed by government regulations (18%) and lack of qualified workers (15%)

Policy matters: Two-thirds of employers listed Washington’s overall tax burden as their top public policy concern. The next largest categories are housing (13%), workforce (11%), homelessness and public safety (both 10%).

Why employers need to pay attention to public policy

Kris Johnson column

There are many ways you can engage with elected officials in Olympia and Washington, D.C., AWB President Kris Johnson writes in his latest newspaper column, from calling or writing about specific concerns to inviting lawmakers to visit your business.

“Getting to know your elected officials doesn’t guarantee they will vote in the way you would prefer,” Johnson says. “But once they know you by name, they are more likely to consider your point of view, and that’s a start.”

What AWB is doing: AWB interviews dozens of candidates every election year and makes endorsements. We also host candidate debates - an important part of our civic engagement.

  • Our Policy Summit this fall will feature debates with candidates for governor and other statewide offices

WA students to compete in National Civics Bee state finals June 29

Civics Bee
Washington will crown the 2024 National Civics Bee state champion on June 29.

You’re invited: Middle school students from around the state will compete in the National Civics Bee Washington State Finals on Saturday, June 29 in Olympia. AWB members and the public are welcome to attend.

Best of the best: Fifteen finalists have qualified for the statewide contest, following an essay writing contest and regional competitions this spring. Students will compete in a live quiz event testing their civics knowledge and answer questions on their essays from a panel of judges.

  • The judges are Paul Francis, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; Renee Radcliff Sinclair, President and CEO of TVW; and Chris Reykdal, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction

  • Washington Lt. Gov. Denny Heck will serve as emcee

Details: The competition will begin at 10 a.m. at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia.

How does your civic knowledge stack up? Take this quiz from The Civic Trust.

🍔 Explore another decade in AWB’s history


Decade of burgers: The decade from 1954 to 1963 saw the formation of more iconic Washington businesses (including a few tasty milestones) and the debut of the Space Needle.

  • Seattle institution: The first Dick’s Drive-In opens in 1954, founded by 29-year-old Dick Spady and his partners. His granddaughter, Jasmine Donovan, runs the company today.

  • Another famed burger joint: George Propstra opens the first Burgerville USA in Vancouver in 1961. It has grown to 40 locations in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

  • JFK surprise visit to Space Needle: President John. F Kennedy makes a brief unannounced visit to then-unfinished Space Needle, which opens in 1962.

  • Longtime leader steps down: Ed "Deke" Davis retires after 11 years leading the Association of Washington Industries. During his tenure, the association more than doubled in members.

Look back: Explore more milestones as we continue to celebrate AWB’s 120th birthday.

Honor a business that lifts up our veterans

Energy Northwest

AWB’s Washington Veterans & Families Award recognizes employers who have taken special efforts to hire, support and lift up veterans and their families. Last year’s winner was Energy Northwest, where nearly a third of its workforce are veterans of our armed forces.

“We believe that recruiting from the military community brings our organization a culture of resilience, teamwork and the ability to conquer the toughest challenges," said Energy Northwest CEO Bob Schuetz.

Nominations due June 30: There’s less than three weeks left to nominate a business (or your own) for this honor, one of 11 categories in AWB’s Washington Excellence Awards and Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

Become a manufacturing bus tour stop: Want your shop floor featured on AWB’s 2024 Manufacturing Week bus tour in October? One of the best ways to be considered is to nominate your company for our Manufacturing Excellence Awards.


U.S. economy gains 272,000 jobs in May

Hiring still hot: U.S. employers added 272,000 jobs last month, with the largest gains in the leisure/hospitality, health care and government sectors. Those numbers are well above economists’ expectations of 190,000 jobs.

A more balanced market: There are some signs, however, that the labor market is cooling, including a dip in the number of open positions. The Federal Reserve wants to see worker supply catch up to worker demand as it considers interest rate cuts later this year.


Manufacturing job market cooling

Open positions decline: There were 516,000 job vacancies in the country’s manufacturing sector in April, the lowest number of openings since the end of 2020, in line with trends across the broader economy.

“Manufacturing continues to have a gap of over 500,000 open jobs, which is still elevated above pre-pandemic levels—and this makes it harder for companies to compete,” said Manufacturing Institute President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee, in an update last week from the National Association of Manufacturers.

other news

Boeing Starliner successfully docks at space station

Milestone flight: Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft carrying astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore made its first docking at the International Space Station on Thursday. The craft will eventually carry dozens of astronauts to and from the space station.

“It’s nice to be attached to the big city in the sky,” Wilmore said as the Starliner made contact with the space station. “It’s a great place to be.”

Zero-gravity Q&A: The astronauts remained at the space station for a fourth day on Monday, and continue to test and evaluate the Starliner spacecraft. The astronauts spoke with with representatives of the National Space Council in a livestreamed Q&A earlier today.

events and resources

Policy Summit to feature statewide debates

AWB 2024 Policy Summit

Lock in lowest price: Early-bird tickets are available for AWB’s 2024 Policy Summit, Sept. 17-19 in Spokane. Register before prices go up Aug. 1.

Political, policy focus: This year’s Policy Summit will feature debates with candidates for governor, attorney general and lands commissioner, plus timely discussions on a range of policy issues. Stay tuned for details.

Book your hotel room: The event will take place at the Historic Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane. We have a room block available for attendees. Book by Aug. 16 to secure this discounted rate.

Learn to navigate noncompetes, confidentiality agreements, more

Employment law banner

Protect your business: AWB’s HR & Employment Law Webinar Series concludes on July 10 with a session on non-competes, confidentiality agreements, non-solicitations, and intellectual property protection.

  • You’ll learn about strategies for legal protection, best practices, and insights on proposed legislation in this 90-minute webinar at 11 a.m. on Zoom. Register for the single webinar.

Get the full package: AWB’s six-part webinar series covers a wide range of issues to help you succeed on the HR side of your business. You can watch the full series by purchasing on-demand access.

  • Upon request, in-person attendees can obtain continuing education credits through SHRM or HRCI.

New health insurance option arrives in Clark County

Dap Tapani banner

Essential benefit: Clark County companies can now provide health insurance to employees and their families through AWB HealthChoice, thanks to a new partnership with LifeWise Health Plan of Washington.

New customer perspective: Dan Tapani Excavating is one of the first companies in Clark County to sign up for HealthChoice.

  • “The coverage is great. Looking for a health care plan for employees is very challenging. There are not a lot of options out there. We’re very happy with AWB coming into Clark County with another option,” co-owner Andy Tapani said.

Get your free quote: For more information and a quote, please contact your insurance producer or Helen Siggins:

Post of the Week
Astronaut press conference on Boeing Starliner
They Said It

“As more candidates move toward the extreme end zones of the political football field, it’s more important than ever to find people who are willing to work in the middle of the field in search of solutions to the problems facing our state.”

AWB President Kris Johnson, on the importance of employers getting to know their elected officials and engaging in the political process.

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