Whatcom County economy added 870 jobs in November

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 23, 2013 

The Whatcom County economy continued a solid job-creating performance in November 2013.

The latest numbers from the Washington Department of Employment Security show a small uptick in the countywide unemployment rate to 6.1 percent for November, compared to an even 6 percent in October. But during the same period, the county filled 870 more jobs, bringing total employment up to 98,020.

Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a state regional labor economist, said seasonal factors tend to push the unemployment percentage rate up every November. She noted that the November 2013 unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was significantly better than the 6.8 percent in the same month for 2012.

Overall, Whatcom County showed a 4 percent increase in non-farm employment for November, compared to the same month in 2012. The statewide average was 1.3 percent.

Job creation tends to pull people off the sidelines and back into the hunt for a paycheck. Whatcom County's labor force - the number of people looking for work - increased by 1,050 from October to November 2013.

"Whatcom County has been pulling ahead," Vance-Sherman said. "There are lots of counties that are continuing to see that labor force shrinking."

That includes Skagit County, where the labor force dropped by 540, and Island County, down 810.

Whatcom County's strong job-generating sectors are trade, transportation and utilities - which includes retail shopping - and the hotel and restaurant business, Vance-Sherman said. Continued strong Canadian shopping likely explains both those trends, she added.

The county statistics also show 9,400 manufacturing jobs in November 2013, a slight dip from October, but 300 jobs above the November 2012 total.

Local governments also added 300 jobs from October to November 2013, bringing the estimated total to 10,000.

Reach John Stark at 360-715-2274 or john.stark@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

Reach JOHN STARK at john.stark@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2274.

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