Whatcom County’s labor market continues to grow at a steady clip, according to the latest data.
The January unemployment rate was 6.4 percent locally, down slightly from a year earlier, the Washington State Employment Security Department reported. The rate is higher compared to December’s mark of 5.8 percent, but that is expected given the seasonal retail layoffs following the holiday shopping season.
The area added 1,200 jobs in the past year, a 1.2 percent increase. The job growth has slowed compared to recent years coming out of the recession, suggesting a maturing recovery, said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional economist for the state. She said growth in 2017 will likely be in many industries, but at a slower pace than in recent years.
The agency also took a closer look at the data from last fall and found the job market was stronger than first estimated in several local industries, including construction, financial activities and retail trade.
“Overall, the benchmarking process didn’t significantly shift the story, but did reveal a stronger recovery in terms of the number of jobs in Whatcom County,” Vance-Sherman said.
Construction remained very strong in January, typically a time when works slows down. The industry employed an estimated 7,400 people in Whatcom County, 600 more than a year earlier.
King County continues to have the hottest job market in the state, with a 3.8 percent unemployment rate. Snohomish County’s rate was 4.2 percent, while Skagit was at 7.3 percent. Ferry County had the highest rate in the state, at 12.5 percent.