Thurston County unemployment inches up to 6.3 percent in May

Thurston County unemployment bumped up to 6.3 percent in May, but that’s still rare territory: a jobless rate hovering around six percent.

And that’s up from 5.6 percent in April, according to county jobless data released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.

The last time the county’s unemployment rate fell below 6 percent was in summer 2008, Employment Security regional economist Jim Vleming said.

But the May results also were kind of a mixed bag.

After a combination of job gains and job losses, the net result was no new jobs were created in the April to May period, but the jobless rate can inch higher anyway as more people enter the labor force, he said.

But Vleming expects that to change as the summer road construction season gets underway and construction employment increases.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the 5 percent unemployment range,” Vleming said.

And it’s not just hiring in construction.

Downtown Olympia’s Oyster House, which burned down about a year ago, is set to reopen next month, owner Tom Barrett said. Hiring started two weeks ago and the business still is accepting applications, he said. Those interested should apply between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday. The Oyster House is on Fourth Avenue at Percival Landing.

Barrett said he ultimately expects to hire about 50 people.

Regional jobless rates for May, not seasonally adjusted:

-King County (Seattle, Bellevue): 4.8 percent

-Kitsap County: 6.1 percent

-Thurston County: 6.3 percent

-Pierce County: 7.2 percent

-Mason County: 8.4 percent

-Lewis County: 9.5 percent

-Grays Harbor County: 10.5 percent