Adams County unemployment remains at 27-year lows

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Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

RITZVILLE — The good news is that nonfarm unemployment in Adams County dropped a full percentage point in September 2017, when compared with September 2016. The bad news is that the number of nonfarm jobs in Adams County didn't grow at all in that year.

Adams County unemployment was 3.7 percent in September, down from 4.7 percent in September 2016, said Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington Employment Security Department. September’s unemployment rate is unchanged from August, and it's the lowest for September since the state started keeping electronic records in 1990. Since February unemployment in Adams County has been lower in 2017 than it was in 2016.

The county lost jobs between 2015 and 2016, Meseck wrote. “Year over year, total nonfarm employment in Adams County has either stagnated or decreased for the past six months, April through September 2017. In September 2017 there were the same number of nonfarm jobs in Adams County, 5,850 jobs, as in September 2016.”

The labor force grew in Adams County between the Septembers of 2016 and 2017, but the number of unemployed residents fell by a bigger amount than the labor force grew. The analysis indicates “the September 2016 to September 2017 increases in the local labor force and resident employment are primarily caused by agricultural hiring, versus nonfarm hiring, in Adams County.”

Manufacturing in Adams County added 10 jobs between two Septembers. “Year over year, employment in Adams County’s manufacturing industry has either stabilized or expanded for the past six months, April through September 2017. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of Adams County’s manufacturing jobs are with food manufacturers or processors.”

Employment in the “transportation, warehousing and utilities” sector rose by 4.4 percent between September 2016 and September 2017. ”This (sector) includes trucking, wherein many jobs are dependent on the local agricultural industry.”

Federal, state and local government employment “has either stabilized or increased for the past 12 months, October 2016 through September 2017,” Meseck wrote. Government added 30 jobs between September 2016 and September 2017. But the education and health services sector lost jobs, 20 between the two Septembers.

Agricultural employment is measured year to year. In 2016, Adams County agriculture accounted for about 29.2 percent of employment subject to the Washington Employment Security Act, or “covered employment.” That’s up from 26.7 percent in 2004.

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

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