Local county jobless rates rise as statewide rate drops

By Mike Benbow

Herald Writer

Despite a statewide drop in unemployment, the jobless rate rose slightly in Snohomish and Island counties in September, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

And the full brunt of the layoffs triggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks won’t show up in the numbers until this month’s figures are tallied, officials said.

"The effects of September 11 were not fully captured in our state’s labor market data," said Sylvia Mundy, commissioner of the department. "The October data, however, is expected to reveal the unfolding effects of its aftermath, particularly at the national level."

In Snohomish County, where unemployment was 4.6 percent in August, the rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 4.8 percent in September. That means that from a labor force estimated at 337,700 people, about 16,100 were without work.

In Island County, where the jobless rate in August was 4.1 percent, employment worsened slightly to 4.2 percent in September. The labor force in Island County was estimated at 28,800 people, with 1,200 out of a job last month.

Washington’s unemployment rate decreased slightly overall in September to 5.5 percent. It had been 5.6 percent in August.

When adjusted for normal seasonal changes, September’s statewide jobless rate increased slightly to 6.1 percent compared to August. The seasonally adjusted national rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent in September.

The biggest boost to the state’s employment ranks in September came from the 17,500 state and federal education jobs added with the new school year. Manufacturing lost 1,500 jobs, while retail trade contracted by 3,500 jobs.

Unemployment topped 10 percent in Cowlitz and Klickitat counties. The rate was 3 percent or less in Garfield, San Juan and Whitman counties. Garfield posted a state-best 1.2 percent; Cowlitz was high at 10.5 percent.

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