County unemployment drops below 6 percent

Whatcom County’s unemployment rate for March was 5.9 percent, the lowest it has been since December 2008, according to the latest report from the state Employment Security Department.

The industries that added the most local jobs since March 2014 were construction with 600 jobs, a 10 percent increase, and state government with 700 jobs, an 11.9 percent increase.

“It’s really encouraging to see this, and we’re seeing it at a statewide level,” said Employment Security Department economist Annneliese Vance-Sherman. “The numbers are similar for all of the Northwest Washington counties except for Skagit, which had a small drop but nothing substantial.”

Employment numbers increased last month for all the industries that the employment security department tracks. Year over year, leisure and hospitality is the only industry with fewer jobs. Vance-Sherman said that is because of the weak Canadian dollar and a decline in cross-border traffic.

An increase in hiring during March is typical. January and February usually have the highest unemployment rate and by March seasonal hiring picks up again, Vance-Sherman said.

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