After the South Sound job market showed improvement all year, it ended 2015 on a weak note, according to county-level unemployment data released Tuesday.
Unemployment rates inched higher last month in South Sound, rising to 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent in Pierce County and to 5.9 percent from 5.4 percent in Thurston County, state Employment Security Department data show.
Employment Security regional economist Jim Vleming said the counties each shed 600 jobs in the November to December period.
And most of those jobs were lost in professional and business services: 600 in Thurston County and 400 in Pierce County.
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Why so many in professional and business services? Vleming wasn’t entirely sure, although he expects those numbers to improve as federal income tax season gets underway and businesses fill more white collar positions, such as tax preparers.
In the past year, Pierce County has added 5,100 jobs, including 1,900 in retail trade. Over the same period, Thurston County has added 2,800 jobs, including 700 in retail trade, Vleming said.
The seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for December was 5.5 percent.
Regional jobless rates for December, not seasonally adjusted:
▪ King County: 4.5 percent.
▪ Kitsap County: 5.5 percent.
▪ Thurston County: 5.9 percent.
▪ Pierce County: 6.1 percent.
▪ Mason County: 7.9 percent.
▪ Lewis County: 8.3 percent.
▪ Grays Harbor County: 9.4 percent.