Whatcom Countys unemployment rate rose in July as summer break got into full swing.
The local unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in July, up from Junes revised estimate of 7.3 percent, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.
While up from June, last months unemployment numbers were down from July 2011, when the rate was 8.3 percent.
Most of the job losses between June and July came in the public sector. According to the department, 1,900 government jobs disappeared in that time period, including those related to school districts.
The 14,600 government jobs in Whatcom County last month equaled the total in July 2011.
There was no change in the number of private sector jobs between June and July. In the past year, however, the private sector has added 1,600 jobs locally, a 2.5 percent increase.
The loss of the public sector jobs is fairly typical for this time of year, said Elizabeth Court, a regional labor economist for the state.
The good news is the private sector, particularly in industries like construction, she said.
Court said the 2.5 percent year-over-year growth in the private sector was considered healthy, but still leaves room for improvement.
The trend were seeing is slow, steady improvement in the labor market, she said.
Broken down by industries, construction (up 200 jobs) and manufacturing (up 100 jobs) posted month-to-month gains, while the private service sector shed 300 jobs.
The number of people actively seeking work in Whatcom County rose by 170 between June and July, to 8,210.
However, that July total is down 460 compared to a year ago.
Whatcoms unemployment rate remained lower than several nearby counties in July, including Skagit (9.2 percent) and Snohomish (8.3 percent).
Grays Harbor County had the highest unemployment rate in the state last month at 13 percent, while San Juan had the lowest, at 5.6 percent.
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