Grant County unemployment remains at 10-year low

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Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

OLYMPIA — Grant County’s unemployment rate dropped by more than a percentage point between August 2016 and August 2017. But unemployment did edge up slightly between July and August.

The unemployment rate was the lowest for August since 2004, wrote Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington Employment Security Department.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.3 percent in August 2016 to 4.9 percent in August 2017. “The civilian labor force expanded modestly while the number of unemployed residents decreased sharply,” Meseck wrote.

The unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in July 2017.

Grant County’s nonfarm employment rate grew by 1.8 percent between the Augusts, which was slower than the statewide growth of 2.5 percent in the same time frame. Grant County “labor force growth rates have lagged statewide growth rates in 28 of the past 29 months, April 2015 through August 2017. Nevertheless, the local unemployment rate has declined each of the past 11 months primarily because the number of unemployed has contracted substantially,” Meseck wrote.

The number of Grant County unemployed dropped from 2,930 residents in August 2016 to 2,344 in August 2017, “meaning that 586 fewer Grant County residents were out of work during this time frame.”

There was good news in nondurable goods manufacturing, but bad news in durable goods manufacturing. In Grant County nondurable goods jobs mostly are in food processing, and the sector grew by 7 percent (220 jobs) between August 2016 and August 2017. The nondurable goods sector “has been faring well over the last couple of years,” Meseck wrote, growing for 12 of the last 13 months, counted year over year.

But durable goods manufacturing lost 110 jobs in the same time period. In Grant County, that sector of the economy has lost jobs for the 22 consecutive months, counting year over year.

The “mining, logging and construction” sector is mostly construction in Grant County. It lost 20 jobs between June 2016 and June 2017. Wholesale trade lost 200 jobs between the Augusts, and “transportation, warehousing and utilities” lost 140 jobs in that same time frame.

The news was better in the professional and business services sector, which added 250 jobs between August 2016 and August 2017. The retail trade sector added 130 jobs, a 3.8 percent increase, and the leisure and hospitality sector added 210 jobs, a 7.9 percent increase.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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