Business Blog

Whatcom unemployment update: State taking a closer look

UPDATE: The strong job growth numbers mentioned in the article also came as a surprise to Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the state.

“It (the job growth) is much higher than expected, so we’re looking into what caused that shift,” Vance-Sherman said. She added that it was only Whatcom County in the six counties she analyzes that had these unusual numbers for January.

So while they are taking a closer look at the numbers, we're going to hold off running this article in the newspaper until they've confirmed the data.

Here's the original post:

Whatcom County recorded its lowest January unemployment rate in six years as revised numbers indicate more jobs were created than expected.

The January unemployment rate locally was 6.9 percent, the lowest since 2008, according to data from the Washington State Employment Security Department. That's up from December's revised rate of 6.2 percent, but down significantly compared to January 2013 rate of 8.3 percent.

January and February tend to have the highest local unemployment rates for the year, but the most recent rate is already lower than in five months of 2013 and nine months of 2012.

This is also the time of year when the employment security department revises its statistics after getting in more information from the year-end totals. The revised employment numbers indicate 87,200 people were employed in the non-farm category, up 6,200 compared to a year earlier.

Most of that growth was in the private sector, which added 6,000 jobs in the past year. Some of the areas that posted significant gains in the past year include construction (up 500 people), retail (up 400) and professional/business services (up 400).

The number of people actively seeking work in January was estimated at 7,110, up 660 compared to December but down 1,500 compared to January 2013.

Whatcom's unemployment rate in January was among the lowest in the state. King County had the lowest in the state, at 5.2 percent, while Snohomish County came in at 6 percent. Skagit was at 8.4 percent.

The highest unemployment rate in the state was in Ferry County, at 12.9 percent.

The state rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 6.9 percent in January.