Snohomish County jobless rate dips in July

Snohomish County’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in July as the Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms continued their hiring spree, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Aerospace companies hired 800 workers in July, helping to drop the county’s jobless rate from 10.1 percent in June to 10 percent last month.

During the past year, the aerospace sector has added 5,900 jobs in the county. Most were at the Boeing Co., which has been working feverishly to deliver the new 787 and 747-8 jets and to increase production for all of its existing ones.

“Despite continued job growth, the unemployment rate has yet to move in any meaningful way,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, the regional labor economist for the state agency, in her report on the county’s numbers. “Snohomish County’s unemployment rate has been stuck in a holding pattern, hovering between 9 and 11 percent since early 2009.”

Aerospace was the main sector adding workers in July, but not the only one.

Also hiring was trade, transportation, and utilities; retail trade; information; and professional and business services.

Cutting jobs were educational and health services; arts; entertainment; and recreation. Government had the biggest cutbacks, with local governments cutting 400 jobs.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell from 4,583 in June to 3,954 in July. Continued claims also fell slightly. And final claims grew from 824 to 963 between June and July. As of July 9, 7,206 county residents had exhausted their jobless benefits.

Vance-Sherman noted that the number of workers in the county peaked in 2008 and bottomed out in 2010 to the equivalent of the jobs present in 2006. Since then, the numbers have been slowly climbing.

She noted that while the recession ended statistically in the nation in June 2009, the hardships continue.

“The recovery period has involved mixed patterns of job losses and growth,” she said. In Snohomish County, most industries didn’t reach a low point of employment until 2010. Thus far, 2011 has been a period of growth.

“While this is encouraging news, we still have a long way to go before most industries recover the employment levels seen in 2008.”

The employment rate is an estimated figure that accounts for people looking for work. It does not include unemployed people who have become discouraged and stopped looking, or the underemployed, people who want a full-time job but can only find part-time work.

The estimated labor force in the county in July was 377,270 people, with 339,470 employed and 37,800 looking for a job.

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