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Construction continues to lead Whatcom job growth

The 4.9 percent unemployment rate for June is up slightly from May, but that typically happens as schools take a summer break and some look for summer work. It’s the third straight month that Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was under 5 percent.
The 4.9 percent unemployment rate for June is up slightly from May, but that typically happens as schools take a summer break and some look for summer work. It’s the third straight month that Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was under 5 percent. AP

Whatcom County continued to add jobs heading into summer, according to a new state report.

The unemployment rate in Whatcom County was estimated to be 4.9 percent in June, down significantly compared to the 6.1 percent recorded in June 2016. The data is based on a report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

According to the report, 105,068 Whatcom County residents were employed last month, an increase of 4,509 people compared to a year earlier. Construction continue to lead the way, adding 1,400 people compared to last year. Whatcom job growth in the past year was also seen in manufacturing (up 600 people), retail (up 400) and leisure/hospitality (up 300).

“Regionally, what I have observed is that the largest increases in construction started in the Seattle area, and have begun to spread out geographically,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the state. “I do not expect the high rate of growth to continue indefinitely. It will slow as the recovery continues to mature.”

One area that shrunk more than usual was state government jobs. It usually goes down as schools start summer vacation, but in June the total number of state jobs in Whatcom was 500 less compared to June 2016. Vance-Sherman said it could be a larger than usual drop over the summer, or perhaps a slightly early drop.

“We will know for sure once the seasonality is ironed out in the fall,” she said.

The 4.9 percent unemployment rate for June is up slightly from May, but that typically happens as schools take a summer break and some look for summer work. It’s the third straight month that Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was under 5 percent.

Four counties in the state had an unemployment of under 4 percent. San Juan County came in at 3.4 percent, while King County was at 3.7 percent. The other two counties under 4 percent were Asotin (3.8 percent) and Chelan (3.9 percent). Ferry County continued to have the highest rate at 9.9 percent.

Snohomish County’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, while Skagit’s was at 5.1 percent.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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