Jobs report: Building-sector hiring busy this summer

Construction industry hiring in Whatcom County jumped more than 10 percent in June this year compared to the same month in 2012, according to the latest employment data from the state’s Employment Security Department.

In the midst of the building season, the construction industry gained 600 more jobs in June than it supported during the same month last year.

Total private sector employment in Whatcom rose year-over-year in June, as well, with 1,500 new jobs added.

Whatcom’s unemployment rate was at 7.5 percent in June, according to initial estimates from state economists. It’s the same rate the county posted in June 2012, but an increase from a revised 7.1 percent unemployment rate in May 2013.

Despite a rise in unemployment from May, most private-sector industries in Whatcom saw both short-term and long-term job gains.

Yet the size of the county’s workforce continues shrinking, according to Employment Security statistics.

The county lost 1,780 people from its workforce between June 2012 and June 2013, when initial estimates showed there were 103,840 people either working or out of work and actively seeking jobs in Whatcom County.

Along with construction, other industries with job growth included:

– Retail trade (up 4.8 percent compared to June 2012, 500 jobs added compared to June 2012, 100 jobs added compared to May 2013).

– Leisure and hospitality (up 3.3 percent compared to June 2012, 300 jobs added compared to June 2012, 300 jobs added compared to May 2013).

Whatcom County’s financial activities sector lost 100 jobs in June compared to the same month last year. It was the only local private industry to post a job loss in the latest report.

In the public sector, year-over-year employment levels for local state government agencies rose by 7.5 percent in June. There were 400 more state government jobs in Whatcom County in June 2013 than there were in June 2012, although the county did lose 300 jobs within that sector between June and March of this year.

Local government added 100 new jobs in June compared to the same month last year. Federal government job levels remained the same.

Whatcom had one of the lower unemployment rates in northwest Washington in June, according to initial estimates.

Skagit County posted an 8.7 percent jobless rate. Island County was at 8.1 percent.

San Juan County had the lowest unemployment rate in the region in June, at 5.7 percent. San Juan’s jobless rate tied with Snohomish County for the second lowest in the entire state.

King County has the lowest unemployment statewide, at 5.2 percent.

Grays Harbor County had the highest, at 12.1 percent.

Evan Marczynski, staff reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or

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