County unemployment rate rose to 6 percent in July

Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in July, up from 5.8 percent in June, according to the latest report from the state Employment Security Department.

The latest report estimates that the private sector lost 400 jobs during the month and the public sector lost 2,500 jobs.

The unemployment rate has risen slowly from a low of 5.4 percent in April.

State labor economist Anneliesa Vance-Sherman said the rise is seasonal, as the unemployment rate is not seasonally-adjusted. Jobs  in tourism, agriculture and other industries increase in summer. But the number of people looking for jobs also increases in summer.

The civilian labor force—the number of people 16 and older employed or looking for work—grew between April and June, but shrank by 895 people from June to July.

One factor in that change, Vance-Sherman said, is that much of Whatcom County’s crops are harvested in early summer. Some workers don’t look for work when those jobs are finished and are no longer counted in the civilian labor force, Vance-Sherman said.

Industries that saw the biggest jobs losses were state government, with 2,200 lost jobs in July and leisure and hospitality; and trade, transportation and utilities, with 100 lost jobs each.

The construction, manufacturing, and professional and business services sectors saw the largest employment gains from June to July, with an increase of 100 jobs each.

Year-over-year job growth remains strong. The county gained 2,400 jobs between July 2014 and July 2015.The county unemployment rate was 6.5 percent last July.

In the past year, construction saw the largest employment gains, with an estimated 900 new jobs. Leisure and hospitality added 500 jobs.

The slight increase in unemployment in the County data tracks statewide numbers. Washington state’s revised unemployment rate in July was 5.4 percent, up from 5.2 percent in June.

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