Jobless rate drops
Washington state's jobless rate fell to 6.8 percent last month, dipping below 7 percent for the first time since 2008, according to the Employment Security Department. The state has regained 79 percent of the jobs it lost during the great recession. The Seattle metro area had its own breakthrough: May's 4.7 percent mark represents the first time the jobless rate has been below 5 percent since the recession got rolling. The Seattle Times notes that 5 percent is considered full employment. Wall Street isn't happy, because the national recovery led the Federal Reserve to outline plans today for ending its fiscal stimulus program.
Food stamps and sodas
Mayor Mike McGinn joined more than a dozen other big city mayors in calling on Congress to ban the use of food stamps for the purchase of soda and high-sugar drinks. As Linda Thomas reports on MyNorthwest, the American Beverage Association panned the idea saying the ban won't solve the nation's obesity problem, which "affects Americans of all income levels." Health problems related to nicotine and alcohol consumption affect all income groups too, but we don't allow folks to spend their food stamps on cigarettes and booze.
Hanford pedal to the metal?
New U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz visited Hanford, where he promised to develop a new plan for the nuclear cleanup by the end of summer. He also promised to hold contractors more accountable for the quality of their work, according to KING 5. The station's Gary Chittim reports that Moniz answered media questions while standing in a cramped hallway waiting for a tour of the troubled nuclear reservation. Doing the minimum at Hanford is a time-honored federal tradition maintained by administrations of both political parties.
Harvest of Washington's official state veggie — the Walla Walla sweet onion, of course — is off to an early start, according to one report. Eastern Washington TV station KVEW/KAPP says the crop is coming in about a week and a half ahead of schedule. The onions, originally brought over from France, are distinguished by their mild, sweet taste. And they tend to have a short season: First come, first served.
The Seattle area's weather is turning cloudy, with increasing chances of rain just in time for the longest day of the year: Thursday is the solstice with sunset at 10:04 p.m..) Predictable. But it's been a great spring with lots of chances to enjoy the lengthening days. Here's a shot from TimeAndDate.com, which has loads of weather and time information.
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