Jobs Report: County unemployment estimated at 5.8 percent

Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was initially estimated at 5.8 percent in April, the first time since 2008 the county’s jobless level has dipped below 6 percent, according to the latest report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The 5.8 percent initial estimate is down from a 6.8 percent estimate from the same month last year. It is also down from a revised 7 percent estimate from March 2014, according to the report.

New job creation does not appear to be a major contributing factor to the county’s falling unemployment rate.

Whatcom County added just 120 jobs in April 2014, compared to the same month the previous year. An estimated 96,630 county residents held jobs in April.

Within the same time frame, the number of county residents counted as unemployed—meaning those who are out of jobs but actively seeking work—fell by 1,030, according to the Employment Security Department’s estimates.

The total count of unemployed people in Whatcom County was 5,960 in April.

Still, a number of local industries reported year-over-year job gains. The total number of jobs recorded in the county’s private sector in April 2014 grew by 1,000, compared to April 2013.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 600 jobs in April 2014, compared to the same month last year. Professional and business services added 500; retail and construction both added 300.

In the public sector, both state and local government added 100 jobs each.

County-level unemployment rates across Washington state decreased in April. Out the state’s 39 counties, 22 had jobless rates at or below 7 percent.

San Juan County had the lowest rate in northwest Washington in April, at 4.7 percent.

Skagit County was at 6.6 percent. Island County was at 6.3 percent.

The state’s lowest jobless rate was found in King County, at 4.3 percent. The highest rates were in Grays Harbor County and Ferry County, which were both at 9.9 percent.

Evan Marczynski, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or

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