Grant County unemployment creeps up in October

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YAKIMA — October unemployment in Grant County crept up slightly between 2017 and 2018, and increased one-half of one percent between September and October 2018.

The unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in October, up from 4.4 percent in October 2017. Unemployment was 4.1 percent in September 2018.

The unemployment rate has been a roller coaster through the first 10 months of 2018, dropping a little in some months, rising a little in others, when compared with 2017. Unemployment was up, year over year, from March through July and in October, and down in January, February, August and September, said Don Meseck, regional labor economist with the Washington Employment Security Department.

Traditionally unemployment in Grant County increases during the winter, reaching its peak in January and February, declining through the spring and summer and reaching the highest level of employment in September.

The biggest increase in employment was in the professional and business services, which grew by 760 jobs between October 2017 and October 2018, a 40.6 percent increase. It’s “a diverse set of niche industries, ranging from computer systems design and accounting to landscaping and janitorial services,” Meseck wrote. Within that category, “temporary employment is likely accounting for much of this employment upturn, an encouraging economic indicator.”

Employment also rose dramatically in the “information and financial activities” sector between the Octobers – there were 460 more jobs in that sector, when measured year-over-year, a 41.1 percent increase. Employment in that sector has been rising for the past 13 months, October 2017 through October 2018.

Employment was up in the “mining, logging and construction” sector as well, which in Grant County usually means construction. Employment was up by 270 jobs, 20.3 percent, between October 2017 and October 2018. But that sector lost 50 jobs between September and October.

The news wasn’t as good in the manufacturing sector. Durable goods manufacturing lost 180 jobs between October 2017 and October 2018, a 9 percent loss. The durable goods manufacturing sector has been losing jobs, year-over-year, since January 2018.

The education and health services sector also lost jobs when measured year-over-year, shedding 70 jobs, a 2.4 percent downturn.

Agriculture employment data for 2017, the last year for which it’s available, showed that there were 10,240 agriculture jobs (covered by employment insurance) in Grant County. That’s 26.1 of the county’s total jobs covered by unemployment insurance, and is up 2.2 percent from 2007.

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

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