South Sound unemployment rates rise in October

Unemployment rates in Pierce and Thurston counties rose in October, but for different reasons, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.

Pierce County’s jobless rate rose to 7.1 percent last month — not far from where it was a year ago at 7.6 percent — from 5.9 percent in September, the unemployment data show.

But it’s not cause for alarm because this typically happens in October in Pierce County following the end of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.

Regional economist Jim Vleming said the county shed 1,000 jobs in the September to October period, with most of those jobs tied to the leisure and hospitality industry.

In other words, the kind of jobs created by the fair.

Thurston County’s jobless rate also bumped up last month, rising to 6.3 percent from 5.4 percent in September, the data show. A year ago the county’s jobless rate was 6.6 percent.

Thurston County, though, added 1,000 jobs in the September to October period, showing gains in local government and educational services, Vleming said.

In this case, however, more people entering the labor force can cause the jobless rate to rise.

In the past year, Pierce County has added 7,600 jobs, while Thurston County has added 3,800 jobs, Vleming said.