Business Blog

Whatcom unemployment rate at 6.1 percent in October

With continued growth in private sector jobs, Whatcom's unemployment rate is hovering around levels last seen five years ago.

The unemployment locally was 6.1 percent in October, up slightly from September's 6 percent. The September rate was the lowest since December 2008, according to data from the state's Employment Security Department.

Private sector job growth is one of the bright spots in the report, according to Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the state. Whatcom County had 68,900 private sector jobs in October, up 3,100 from a year ago. The 4.7 percent year-over-year increase in Whatcom County is better than the state average of 2 percent.

Two sectors that have done particularly well locally are manufacturing and leisure/hospitality. The number of manufacturing jobs is up 5.6 percent in the past year to 9,500, while the leisure sector is up 8 percent to 9,400.

The leisure sector includes restaurants. A boost also may have come from the hotels, which includes the recent openings of Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine and Marriott's 122-unit Springhill Suites in Bellingham.

Whatcom's unemployment rate is among the lowest in the state. Skagit's rate was 7.4 percent last month, while King County was at 5.4 percent.

The county with the lowest rate in the state was Whitman, at 5 percent. The county with the highest unemployment rate was Grays Harbor at 10.9 percent.

The state unemployment rate in October was 7 percent, while the U.S. rate was 7.3 percent.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or Read his Business Blog at or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.