Snohomish County jobless rate dips below 5%

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, marking the first time since 2008 the jobless rate has been below 5 percent. For comparison, the unemployment rate in May 2012 was 7.8 percent.

Nonfarm employers added 1,300 jobs from April to May. The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Snohomish County fell from a revised rate of 4.9 percent in April, Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist with the Employment Security Department, said in an analysis. Snohomish County’s official unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent in January and February 2010.

As of May, Snohomish County’s labor force stood at 393,910, with 375,320 of those workers employed and 18,590 unemployed, Vance-Sherman said. Month to month, Snohomish County’s labor force expanded by 3,060. The number of employed grew by 3,510, and the number of unemployed dropped by 450. Year over year, employment levels in the county exceeded May 2012 levels by 2,200 jobs, or 0.8 percent.

From April to May, employers in construction added 300 jobs and manufacturing employers shed 500 jobs. Year-over-year, goods-producers created 1,000 new jobs, Vance-Sherman reported.

Payrolls in the construction sector, which suffered the heaviest job losses and slowest recovery from the Great Recession, expanded by 300 from April to May, she said. Month-to-month growth was seen in all categories of employment in that sector, with the largest addition coming from specialty trade contractors, which added 200 jobs. Year over year, construction employment rose by 100 jobs. Year-over-year gains were counted in construction of buildings and specialty trade contractors. Heavy and civil engineering construction was down 100 over the year.

Manufacturing payrolls contracted by 500 jobs from April to May, Vance-Sherman reported. Job losses were concentrated in aerospace manufacturing, which shed 600 positions. Despite a recent downturn, on a year-over-year basis aerospace manufacturing is responsible for the lion’s share of new hiring in manufacturing and much of the post-recession hiring in the county. Year-over-year counts indicate the addition of 1,000 direct aerospace jobs or 2.2 percent growth for the industry. However, the Boeing Co., Snohomish County’s largest employer, has announced upcoming layoffs for its Puget Sound employment base.

In the diverse service sector, employers added 1,500 jobs. Over the past 12 months, service employers created 1,200 new jobs, an increase of 0.7 percent, Vance-Sherman reported. Private sector service employers created 900 new jobs over the month and introduced 900 new jobs over the year.

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; kbatdorf@heraldnet.com.

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