The unemployment rate in Whatcom County dropped from a revised 9.3 percent in March to 8.4 percent in April, but that may not necessarily be a sign of an improving job market.
The number of people employed locally shrank by 670 from March to April, and year-over-year showed a drop of 2,970 jobs, or 3 percent, according to a recent Employment Security Department report.
Combined with a year-over-year decline of 8 percent in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, the data show that the labor market is shrinking. This could be a result of people moving out of the county to find work or an increase in the number of people who have stopped looking for work or likely a combination of both, according to regional Employment Security labor economist Reinhold Groepler.
Statewide numbers show a similar trend. Unemployment dropped from 9.8 percent in March to 8.9 percent in April. At the same time, the number of people employed dropped 1.8 percent compared to last year.
Preliminary labor data are not seasonally adjusted and often revised later as more data become available. To view the newest labor report, visit www.workforceexplorer.com.