County’s jobless rate plummets to 7.1 percent

  • Tue May 22nd, 2012 12:21pm

By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s unemployment rate sank from 8.5 percent in March to 7.1 percent in April, the state Employment Security Department reported May 22.

The county’s unemployment rate hasn’t been this low since posting a 7.0 percent rate in December 2008 as the U.S. economy was grinding into its deepest contraction since the Great Depression.

April’s preliminary unemployment rate is down two full percentage points from April 2011, Employment Security officials reported.

April’s total employment of 358,760 in all occupations was up by 4,360 positions compared to March and 10,460 positions compared to April 2011.

The number of people unemployed in April stood at 27,390, compared to 32,780 in March and 34,960 in April 2011.

“I am certainly pleased to see this (drop in the unemployment rate), but do wish that we’d see a corresponding rise in the total labor force,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist with the Labor Market and Economic Analysis division of Employment Security.

Employment Security pegged Snohomish County’s total nonfarm employment in April at 258,800, up from 256,600 in March and 248,600 in April 2011.

Once again, aerospace product and parts manufacturing led all Snohomish County employment sectors with a 13.4 percent year-over-year increase in jobs. The sector had an estimated 44,000 workers, up from 43,900 in March and 38,800 in April 2011.

Vance-Sherman said the manufacturing industry created the largest number of jobs in Snohomish County, adding an estimated 5,300 jobs to the local economy, increasing payrolls by 9.3 percent between April 2011 and April 2012.

“It’s important to note that the count of aerospace products and parts manufacturing only catches those employers that are directly and primarily responsible for manufacturing aerospace products,” she said. “Other products in the supply chain are counted under their best-fit industries.”

Other sectors posting strong year-over-year gains were trade, transportation, and utilities, rising 5.3 percent from 41,600 to 43,800 jobs; retail trade, up 5.0 percent from 29,900 to 31,400 jobs; and leisure and hospitality, up 4.5 percent from 22,000 to 23,000 jobs. All other job sectors were flat or showed modest increases, according to Employment Security’s preliminary data.

Only four job sectors reported employment declines in April, Employment Security reported. Natural resources and mining gained 100 jobs over March but lost 100 jobs compared to April 2012 to finish with 14,400 positions. Specialty trade contractors also gained 100 positions over March but lost 200 over the year to finish with 10,200 positions. Credit intermediation and related activities shed 200 jobs and nondurable goods lost 100 jobs.

Vance-Sherman said the construction industry has been hit harder during this recession and recovery period than any other. Peak to trough, the construction sector lost an estimated 40 percent of its total workforce. The first three months of 2012 were the first months indicating year-over-year growth since the start of the recession in 2008. However, recent benchmarking pushed employment estimates downward; year-over-year estimates fell 100 jobs short of last year’s estimates.

During April, Snohomish County’s total labor force contracted by an estimated 1,030 workers, Vance-Sherman said. However, the number of formally employed wage earners increased by 4,360 and the number of active job seekers fell by 5,390. Over the past year, the number of county residents counted as employed grew by an estimated 10,460 and the number counted as unemployed fell by 7,570.

The largest share of Snohomish County unemployment insurance claimants continues to come from workers in construction-related occupations, she said. The top five occupational groups filing initial claims in April were construction and extraction-related occupations; production occupations; office and administrative support occupations; transportation and material-moving occupations; and installation, maintenance and repair occupations.

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102,