Whatcom’s unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in January

Whatcom County’s unemployment rate did its seasonal rise in January, but the numbers indicate this area is also experiencing job growth.

The local unemployment rate in January was 7.3 percent, according to newly released information from the Washington State Employment Security Department. That’s up from 6.5 percent in December but equals the unemployment rate of January 2014.

Whatcom’s unemployment rate tends to be the highest in January and February, then it starts going down in spring as agriculture and tourism jobs become available.

The different between January 2015 compared to a year ago is the labor force. According to the data, 98,110 Whatcom County residents had a job in January 2015, up 3,530 compared to the previous year. The number of residents actively seeking work rose in that same time period by 270 to 7,730.

“On the surface, the increasing unemployment rate can look discouraging, but if it is actually a signal that people are regaining confidence in the state of the labor market and returning to the job search, it could actually be a very good sign,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the state.

At 4.8 percent, King County had the lowest January unemployment rate in the state, followed by Snohomish at 5.3 percent. Skagit’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent. The highest rate in the state was in Ferry County, which was at 13.3 percent in January.