Grant County unemployment inches up in May

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Washington Department of Employment Security/courtesy graphic

MOSES LAKE — Unemployment in Grant County in May increased when compared to unemployment in May 2018. But unemployment dropped from April to May.

The county’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in May 2019, compared with 5.8 percent in May 2018. The unemployment rate was 7 percent in April.

“The (unemployment) rate has been rising (comparing year-over-year) for the past nine months, September 2018 through May 2019,” wrote Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington Department of Employment Security.

Unemployment was low in Grant County in 2018, at an average of 6.2 percent. “This 6.2 percent reading is the lowest average annual unemployment rate since electronic records were implemented (by Employment Security) in 1990,” Meseck said.

But while the unemployment rate is higher than at the same time last year, the county’s economy is still producing jobs. “Between the Mays of 2018 and 2019, local non-farm employment netted 910 new jobs, a 2.9 percent increase. Year-over-year, total non-farm employment in Grant County has been growing for the past 17 months, January 2018 through May 2019.”

The county’s manufacturing sector lost 130 jobs between May 2018 and May 2019, a 7.1 percent drop. The manufacturing sector has been shrinking, when measured year-over-year, for 17 months, Meseck said.

The construction sector, however, picked up some jobs, adding 70 jobs between May 2018 and May 2019, a 4.4 percent increase. The “information and financial services” sector also gained some jobs, adding 50 jobs year-over-year, a 3.6 percent increase.

The “professional and business services” sector continues to add jobs, increasing, year-over-year, for the last 17 months. It includes a lot of different industries, from accountants to janitorial services, legal services to temporary employment. Professional and business services “provided 400 more jobs in May 2019 than in May 2018,” a 16.4 percent increase.

“Leisure and hospitality employment in Grant County has been rising for the past 13 months, May 2018 through May 2019.” Year-over-year the leisure and hospitality sector added 530 jobs, an increase of 19.7 percent.

The education and health services sector added 30 jobs year over year, a one percent increase.

Agriculture employment is measured on a 10-year rolling scale; the data for 2018 was released in June. In the 10-year period, ag employment went from 24.1 percent of the county’s covered (by unemployment insurance) workforce to 24.7 percent. When it comes to wages, ag employment accounted for 17.4 percent of total covered wages, up from 16.2 percent in 2008, a 1.2 percent increase.

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

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