Friday, July 16, 2010

Will there be a fish kill in Lower Hood Canal this year?

Recent media reports, like this one in the Kitsap Sun, describe oxygen depletion in Hood Canal. Researchers are concerned that if the oxygen deficit increases, fish kills may occur within “dead zones.”

This week, members of the House Ecology & Parks Committee got an update on current conditions in Hood Canal, and heard about ongoing research to track “dead zones” and determine what effect humans (mainly via residential on-site septic systems) have on lower oxygen levels in the water. Dr. Jan Newton, from the University of Washington, gave a presentation showing annual variations in oxygen levels at various spots along Hood Canal. Dr. Newton heads the Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program, which has determined so far that although the input of nitrogen into Hood Canal from residential septic systems is small compared to the marine input (nitrogen from ocean water coming into the canal),it is enough to potentially cause a “tipping point” depending on the background concentration of nitrogen for that year. In other words, some years it might not make a difference, and other years it most definitely could.

This year, oxygen levels in Lower Hood Canal are at the lowest levels based on record-keeping, which means 2010 could be the year of sudden fish kills within the Canal. It’s too early yet to tell if that will happen, but what is clear is that minimizing human input of nitrogen into Hood Canal is important. This is an issue that the Committee will continue to track during the interim, because the economies of many communities along Hood Canal are dependent on a healthy marine environment for fishing, shellfish harvesting, and recreation.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unemployment rate falls to 8.9%; third straight month it’s fallen

Some good news for the state and those looking for work: the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent.

The 8.9 percent rate for June is down from 9.2 percent in May. Here is more about where the jobs are coming from:

Industries that added jobs in June were education and health services, up 1,300; construction up 1,000; retail trade, up 900; professional and business services, up 700; leisure and hospitality, up 700; other services, up 400; information, up 300; and manufacturing, up 100.

Jobs were lost in government, down 8,000; financial activities, down 500; wholesale trade, down 300; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 100
More information can be found through the Employment Security Department’s press release and in the Seattle Times article.

Upbeat summer: CNBC ranks Wash. highly for biz climate, ahead of Oregon, Idaho

It’s easy to focus on all the economic chasms that have opened in recent years, but good news does surface from time to time. Business news network CNBC just analyzed all 50 states to determine which ones are best for business, and Washington came in at a healthy 15th place, up one notch from last year. Our neighbors Oregon and Idaho showed up further down at spots 23 and 26, respectively, while Montana and California registered in the 30s.

Unlike other rankings that focus on one metric, the CNBC analysis takes a holistic account of business competitiveness—factors such as technology & innovation, workforce, cost of living, economy and more. Washington ranked particularly high in the areas of access to capital (placing 5th), technology & innovation (5th) and quality of life (8th). We also got high marks for the overall economy (18th) and education (22nd).

Check out the full report here.

Washington’s strong business climate isn’t a new trend, nor is this study an outlier—we’ve covered this long-standing theme several times before.