State unemployment drops, but rises locally

The Bellingham Business Journal

Washington’s unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent in May, the lowest level since the same month a year ago. In Whatcom County, though, the unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

The state economy also picked up an estimated 8,600 jobs in May, the bulk of which were federal Census jobs. With the job gains in May, Washington has added jobs in four of the first five months of 2010, for a net gain of 25,800 so far this year.

“It’s refreshing to talk about job growth and a falling unemployment rate,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “The momentum seems to be shifting in the right direction.”

Among the top industries that added jobs in May were government, construction, professional and business services, and retail trades. Jobs were lost in financial activities, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and transportation.

Year over year, Washington had 27,000 fewer jobs last month than in May 2009, a 1 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 0.4 percent over the past year. An estimated 310,069 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work, and more than 265,000 people received unemployment benefits from Washington in May.

To read the full report, click here.

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