Whatcom’s unemployment rate rises as more people return to labor force

Whatcom County’s unemployment rate rose in November as more people were actively looking for work.

The local unemployment rate last month was 6.3 percent, up from a revised October rate of 6 percent, according to data from the Washington State Employment Security Department. It’s also up from a year ago, when the rate was also 6 percent.

In the past year the number of Whatcom County residents working increased by 1,230 to 98,980. The last time this area had an employed resident labor force at or above 98,980 was in 2009, said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the state.

“We’re finally seeing the labor force expand again in Whatcom County,” she said.

The number of Whatcom County people actively looking for work increased in the past year by 380 to 6,600.

Skagit County’s unemployment rate last month was 7.4 percent, while Snohomish came in at 4.8 percent. King County was at 4.4 percent, according to the data. The state rate, seasonably adjusted, was 6.2 percent in November.