County jobless rate, 8.2 percent, lowest since December 2008

Snohomish County’s jobless rate saw another promising decline in December to 8.2 percent, the lowest since December 2008.

The county had 1,830 fewer people counted as unemployed last month, lowering the jobless rate 0.5 percent from November, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department. November’s revised unemployment rate was 8.7 percent.

Snohomish County’s unemployment rate is now below that of the state as a whole, which was 8.5 percent in December.

About 31,030 people were jobless in the county in December.

However, “I would expect the number of people actively seeking work will go up” next month, said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist with the Employment Security Department.

January’s employment report will be the first to factor in layoffs from Everett’s Kimberly-Clark facility. The paper and pulp mill began laying off 700 workers in December, with the mill’s closure slated for March.

Vance-Sherman said she’ll be interested to see how the nondurable goods manufacturing sector, which includes companies such as Kimberly-Clark, fares in the county in the next few months. Lumber mills, like Seattle-Snohomish Mill in Snohomish, also have recently announced closures or more layoffs.

Manufacturing and retail had the biggest gains in employment last month. Spurred by the Boeing Co., the county’s aerospace industry added 600 jobs in December. Aerospace companies added 6,700 jobs from December 2010 to December 2011.

Transportation and warehousing added 100 jobs last month, as did education and health services.

Retailers added 400 positions in December. But Vance-Sherman noted that retail trade is especially volatile during the holiday season. For the year, retail shed 1,000 positions in the county compared to December 2010.

The construction industry, which has been among the hardest hit in recent years, lost 400 jobs between November and December. Like retail, it tends to be seasonal. But construction employment in the county was down 1,100 positions between December 2010 and December 2011.

About 5,551 people filed initial unemployment claims in the county last month. That number has been holding steady for several months, Vance-Sherman said. Through December, about 8,575 people in the county have exhausted federal and state unemployment benefits since emergency unemployment compensation benefits began in July 2008.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or

Snohomish County unemployment rates

December: 8.2 percent

November: 8.7 percent

October: 8.8 percent

September: 9 percent

Source: Employment Security Department

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