Big-picture peek shows local economy improving

rboone@theolympian.comMay 22, 2013 


    Regional jobless rates for April, not seasonally adjusted:

    King County (Seattle, Bellevue): 4.4 percent.

    Kitsap County: 6.8 percent.

    Thurston County: 7 percent.

    Pierce County: 8.1 percent.

    Mason County: 9.8 percent.

    Lewis County: 11.1 percent.

    Grays Harbor County: 12.1 percent.

Sometimes it’s the trend — not the one-month employment snapshot — that shows the Thurston County economy continues to improve.

That was the case in April as the county’s jobless rate fell to 7 percent from 7.8 percent in March, even though it added only 100 jobs in the March-to-April period, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.

But let’s not get too excited about a 7 percent unemployment rate; the county has been here before. The jobless rate fell to 7 percent in November 2012, only to rise in December and January. By February it hit 8.3 percent.

More important is the long-term trend, which shows steady job growth, Employment Security Department regional economist Jim Vleming said Tuesday.

Since April 2012, the county has created 2,000 jobs, including 400 in professional and business services and 200 in leisure and hospitality jobs, he said.

Adding 2,000 jobs over the year translates into employment growth of 2 percent, Vleming said.

In strictly percentage terms, Thurston’s 2 percent employment growth was better than Pierce County’s 1.3 percent growth during the same period, he said.

King County employment grew by 3.2 percent in the year-over-year April period, Vleming said.

Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment fell to 7 percent in April from 7.3 percent in March.

The national jobless rate is 7.5 percent.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 Source: Employment Security Department

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