Whatcom County's unemployment rate drops below 8 percent


The Whatcom County unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent in March, according to the latest data from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Last month's local unemployment rate is down from a revised rate of 8.4 percent in February. It's also down from March 2012, when the rate was 8.1 percent.

While the unemployment rate is down, Whatcom County has fewer people working than a year ago. According to the data, 97,000 Whatcom residents were employed in March, down 1,790 from a year ago. Nonfarm employment totaled 81,000 last month, down 600 from a year ago. The overall local labor force shrunk 2 percent in the past year.

The construction industry appears to be going through significant changes when it comes to employment. Last month 5,500 were employed in the industry, up 400 compared to February but down 1,000 compared to March 2012.

King County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 5.1 percent, while Ferry County had the highest, at 14.2 percent. Skagit's unemployment rate was 9.3 percent last month.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his business blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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