Grant County unemployment rises in 2019

by Cheryl Schweizer
Staff Writer | February 10, 2020 10:52 PM

Manufacturing sector loses jobs

MOSES LAKE — A slowdown in Grant County’s manufacturing sector was a major contributor to an increase in the county unemployment rate for 2019.

According to preliminary data from the Washington State Employment Security Department, Grant County’s average annual unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in 2019. The average annual unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in 2018.

The statewide average annual unemployment rate was 4.5 percent for 2019. The employment security department provided data for 2009 to 2019, and in that decade Grant County’s average unemployment was always higher than the statewide average.

Preliminary data shows Grant County lost 160 jobs from 2018 to 2019, said Don Meseck, regional labor economist for WSESD. Normally the county would add jobs just with the increase in the labor force, Meseck said, but the job market shrank slightly instead.

The manufacturing sector lost about 170 jobs, a 3.5 percent downturn, in 2019, according to employment security department data. Most of those jobs lost were in the nondurable goods sector, Meseck said, which in Grant County is composed mostly of food processing facilities. Nondurable goods accounts for most manufacturing jobs in Grant County, he said. “That’s a more volatile industry, too.”

The durable goods sector lost about 30 jobs in 2019, he said.

Most of the job losses in Grant County occurred between July and November 2019, Meseck said. In December, the picture was a little brighter: Grant County had about 300 more jobs in December 2019 than in December 2018. That’s “somewhat encouraging,” Meseck said. But “one month of growth doesn’t make a trend.”

“Is December indicative of a new trend?” he asked.

“There’s still a considerable amount of vitality in Grant County,” Meseck said, “and some good opportunities on the horizon.”

The professional and business services sector added 90 jobs year-over-year, an increase of 3.7 percent. Education and health services added 20 jobs and so did the information and financial activities sector.

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