Thurston County’s unemployment rate has climbed more than a full percentage point since December, but an economist said Tuesday not to be too alarmed by the increase because it’s typical for this time of year.
The county’s jobless rate rose to a preliminary 8.5 percent in February from a revised 8.1 percent in January and 7.4 percent in December.
But February’s 8.5 percent jobless rate was still better than the 8.8 percent unemployment rate recorded a year ago.
Seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment was 7.5 percent in February, while national unemployment for the same month was 7.7 percent.
Jobless rates typically rise early in the year as employers continue to shed jobs following the holidays, Employment Security regional economist Jim Vleming said.
The county shed 500 jobs in the January to February period, including 200 in the retail trade, but the jobless rate should start to fall again as another round of seasonal hiring gets under way in spring and summer.
“We’re kind of turning a corner, and springtime is a good time to do that,” he said.
Although the Thurston County economy is expected to add some jobs, no county in the state is creating jobs like King and Snohomish counties.
The state has added about 65,000 jobs in the past year, but most of that job growth has been in those two counties.
On a nonseasonally adjusted basis for February, King County’s jobless rate was 5.8 percent and Snohomish County’s was 6.3 percent.
Regional jobless rates for February
• King County (Seattle, Bellevue): 5.8 percent.
• Kitsap County: 8.3 percent.
• Thurston County: 8.5 percent.
• Pierce County: 9.7 percent.
• Mason County: 11.8 percent.
• Lewis County: 13.4 percent.
• Grays Harbor County: 13.9 percent.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog Source: Employment Security Department