Adams County unemployment drops in December

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Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

RITZVILLE — Adams County unemployment went down by almost two percentage points between December 2016 and December 2017. Unemployment went up more than 2 percent between November and December 2017, following traditional county trends.

The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in December 2017, down from 9.5 percent in December 2016. “Adams County’s annual average unemployment rate dipped from 6.8 percent to 5.7 percent in 2017, a one and one-tenth percentage point downturn,” wrote Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington Department of Employment Security.

The unemployment rate went from 5.3 percent in November to 7.8 percent in December. Traditionally, in Adams County unemployment is higher over the winter, peaking in January, then dropping through the summer, reaching its low point in September.

“Total nonfarm employment in Adams County rose from 5,760 jobs in 2016 to 5,810 in 2017, up 0.9 percent. Year over year, total nonfarm employment in Adams County has increased for the past five months, August through December 2017,” Meseck wrote. “Estimates indicate total nonfarm employment growth in the last half of 2017 pulled the local economy of the ‘doldrums’ experienced during the first half of the calendar.”

Total nonfarm employment was 5,860 in December 2017, up 190 jobs from December 2016 (5,670 jobs), a 3.4 percent increase.

During 2017 the county’s labor force expanded by 294 people, a 3.4 increase. “Between the Decembers of 2016 and 2017, the labor force expanded by 3.4 percent, from 8,158 residents to 8,512, meaning that 354 more people were in labor force.” In the same time frame, the number of unemployed dropped by 14 percent, 771 people in December 2016 to 663 in December 2017.

In Adams County the “mining, logging and construction” jobs are mostly in construction, and that sector increased by 20 jobs, 16.7 percent, between the Decembers of 2016 and 2017. Manufacturing also gained 20 jobs between December 2016 and December 2017, a 1.9 percent increase. “Year over year, employment in Adams County’s manufacturing industry expanded during each month of the fourth quarter, following a weak performance in the first three calendar quarters of 2017,” Meseck wrote. “Approximately 85 to 90 percent of Adams County’s manufacturing jobs are with food manufacturers and processors.”

The leisure and hospitality industry also gained jobs between the Decembers, going from 370 jobs in December 2016 to 420 jobs in December 2017. Jobs in that sector increased each month in the last quarter of 2017, Meseck said. The government sector grew as well, adding 70 jobs between the Decembers. “Preliminary estimates indicate that government was the sector that added the most new jobs to the Adams County nonfarm (job) market last year,” Meseck wrote. “Year over year, government sector employment across Adams County has increased for the past 16 months.”

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

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