Snohomish County unemployment rate dips

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Payrolls increased in March by about 2,670 people in Snohomish County, driving down the county’s unemployment rate to 8.4 percent, according to a state Employment Security Department report released Tuesday.

The county’s jobless rate had jumped slightly to 8.9 percent in February. But Snohomish County’s unemployment rate remains firmly lower than the state’s, which was 9.2 percent in February and 8.8 percent in March.

In March, about 354,380 people had jobs in Snohomish County out of a total labor force of 386,890.

Compared to the previous March, the number of jobless people dropped significantly. Snohomish County had 6,030 more people who were unemployed in March 2011 than last month. The county’s unemployment rate a year ago was 10 percent.

However, more than 9,300 people in the county have exhausted their unemployment benefits. That number is set to climb after the federal government announced earlier this month it will reduce long-term unemployment benefits to Washington residents. Jobless people still retain state unemployment benefits. The long-term unemployment benefits paid by the federal government have been cut to 73 weeks from 99.

Many segments of Snohomish County’s economy experienced job increases in March. Retailers added 200 positions last month, as did food services. Aerospace continued to grow last month, adding 300 jobs.

Construction, which was hit hard in the recession, added 100 jobs in March. Contractors also added 100 jobs last month.

Government jobs declined in Snohomish County in March. State government shed 300 positions in the county while local government payrolls declined by 200.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.