County jobless rate up a fraction

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s unemployment rate climbed in September as hiring stalled in most industries and the number of initial jobless claims also rose.

The county’s jobless rate was 9.6 percent last month, up from a revised 9.4 percent in August, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Statewide, the jobless rate held steady at 9 percent as the state picked up about 1,000 jobs overall last month.

The total number of jobs in the county fell by 300 in September, said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Employment Security’s local labor economist.

“Over the past several months, Snohomish County has experienced some job growth in the private sector,” Vance-Sherman said. “However the rate at which new jobs are being created is still relatively slow. September marked the first month when over-the-month-increases were not seen for the private sector as a whole.”

The aerospace industry added 700 jobs in September, mostly at the Boeing Co., as it continued to prepare to ramp up production rates and to produce the new 787 and 747-8 jetliners.

And professional services also added about 100 people.

But other business sectors lost jobs in September, including construction, retail sales, taverns and hotels, education and health services, financial services, telecommunications and government.

In the past year, the county has lost 4,000 service jobs, 1,200 jobs in mining, logging and construction, 500 jobs in the goods-producing sector and 900 jobs on public payrolls, Vance-Sherman noted. A lot of the lost government jobs were U.S. census positions with the federal government, which were temporary positions.

The only bright spot has been aerospace, which has added jobs in the past few months.

“In total, employment in Snohomish County is down 4,500 compared to this time last year,” Vance-Sherman said. “This amounts to 1.8 percent of all jobs counted in Snohomish County. Within this estimate, the private sector lost 3,600 and government employment fell by 900.”

She noted that the county’s labor force is estimated at 378,910 workers, down from 380,470 last month. That includes all the people working or seeking work who live in the county.

She said about 36,480 people are estimated to be actively seeking work. The number of unemployed is larger than that figure because many jobless have given up looking.

New claims for unemployment benefits rose to 5,032 last month, up from 4,715 in August. Continued claims fell to 11,930 from 12,834. Final claims also decreased to 1,090 last month from 1,390 in August.

“One trend that has characterized the past couple years is a tendency for more people to collect (benefits) for longer stretches of time,” Vance-Sherman said. “The largest share of claimants in Snohomish County was from workers in construction-related occupations.”