New hires fuel drop in state, county jobless rates for August

By Mike Benbow

Herald Writer

Unemployment in Snohomish County and across the state dropped slightly in August, fueled by hiring at Boeing Co. and elsewhere.

The state and county numbers dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point.

Washington’s rate moved from 5.7 percent in July to 5.6 percent last month. The county rate was 4.7 percent, down from the 4.8 percent adjusted rate for July. In Island County, unemployment was at 4 percent.

While the jobless rate improved last month, it was considerably higher than last year, said Donna Thompson, Snohomish County economist for the state Employment Security Department.

In August 2000, unemployment was only 3.8 percent. There are 3,000 additional people out of work this year than last, she said.

Jobs at local schools went down in August, as expected. Ship builders and the post office also cut back. Manufacturing jobs increased, with Boeing hiring an additional 300 people in the county in August and the food business hiring a similar amount, Thompson reported.

The local numbers mean that of a labor force of 342,900 people in Snohomish County, 326,900 had jobs and 15,900 were still looking. In Island County, the labor force is estimated at 29,200 people, with 28,100 on the job and 1,200 idle.

State officials said that when seasonal adjustments are made, the statewide rate actually increased by two-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent.

"The change was pretty marginal from July to August, but employment seemed to be somewhat weaker than usual for this time of year," said Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia Mundy. "For more than 20 years, the seasonally adjusted rate for August dropped slightly due to summer hiring, but during this year and last there has been a slight increase."

Statewide, the losses came from seasonal cutbacks in the schools, just as in Snohomish County. But there were also major cutbacks in manufacturing and in the computer and data processing sector, which lost 1,800 positions this August compared to a gain of 800 in August 2000.

Health services added 1,100 workers, including 700 in hospitals. The construction and food preservation industries added jobs last month, as did retail trade, consumer goods stores and restaurants and taverns.

You can call Herald Writer Mike Benbow at 425-339-3459

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