Jobless rate in Whatcom holds at 7.5 percent for Oct. and Nov.

The unemployment rate for Whatcom County held steady at 7.5 percent for the months of October and November, the lowest it’s been since January 2009 and lower than the current statewide average of 8.3 percent, according to the newest report from the Employment Security Department.

The report shows that job growth in the county is on an upward trend, though some of the data in the report give conflicting outlooks, said regional labor economist Reinhold Groepler. For example, when looking at payroll data, the number of nonfarm jobs in Whatcom County grew by 300 jobs in November and is up 2,000 jobs over last year.

But looking at the total number of people employed shows a different picture. The number of people employed in November was 96,660, which is 1,930 fewer than during the same time last year.

“Sometimes these two measures can conflict each other. I would put more reliability in the number of jobs being created,” Groepler said.

The payroll data comes from employers and measures the number of jobs located in Whatcom County, whereas the number of people employed counts the number of residents with jobs, no matter where those jobs are located, Groepler added.

The leading sectors of job growth in Whatcom County over the past year were health care, manufacturing, retail trades, wholesale trade, transportation and utilities.

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