Business Blog

Whatcom unemployment rate rises to 6.4 percent

Whatcom County's unemployment rate rose in May as this area transitions into the summer economy.

Last month the local unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, up from a revised rate of 5.7 percent in April. The unemployment rate is down from a year ago, when it was at 7 percent.

The local unemployment rate typically rises between April and May as more people enter the workforce looking for summer jobs and the schools start winding down. The local rate tends to go down during the summer, hitting its lowest point in September or October.

The number of Whatcom County people employed in nonfarm jobs last month totaled 86,200, up 800 compared to April and up 1,200 compared to a year ago. Industries that posted significant gains locally include leisure/hospitality (up 600 people in the past year), construction (up 500) and retail (up 200).

King and San Juan counties had the lowest unemployment rates in the state, coming in at 4.7 percent in May. At 10.5 percent, Grays Harbor had the highest rate.

Skagit County's unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, while Snohomish was at 5.1 percent.

The U.S. and Washington unemployment rates, seasonally adjusted, were 6.1 percent in May.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or Read the Business Blog at or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.