Whatcom's unemployment rate rises in May



Whatcom's unemployment rate moved upward last month as more residents began actively seeking work.

The local unemployment rate in May was 7.2 percent, up from a revised rate of 6.7 percent in April, according to the latest data from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The number of people employed locally totaled 96,440 in May, nearly unchanged from April, when 96,470 were employed. The number of people actively seeking work rose from 6,960 in April to 7,500 in May.

Nonfarm private sector employment rose by 600 between April and May, to 66,800, according to the report, making it the highest monthly total since December 2008. Much of that growth came in the construction industry, which added 300 people between April and May. In the past year, 1,800 people were added to private sector employment.

Whatcom had the eighth lowest unemployment rate among Washington's 39 counties. King County had the lowest rate last month, at 4.3 percent, followed by Snohomish at 4.7 percent.

The highest rate in the state was in Grays Harbor, at 12.2 percent. Skagit County's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in May.

The seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate was 6.8 percent last month, while the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent.

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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