As restaurants, retail stores, places of worship, barber shops and nail salons open with capacity restrictions, the unemployment rate has gone down. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

As restaurants, retail stores, places of worship, barber shops and nail salons open with capacity restrictions, the unemployment rate has gone down. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

County unemployment mirrors state trends, drops more than 6%

A state economist said the decline was astounding, but that the economic context must be considered.

EVERETT — June unemployment rates plunged in Snohomish County following a similar statewide trend.

The county’s 9.8% unemployment rate is nearly identical to the Washington state total of 9.7%, according to the Employment Security Department’s figures. For Snohomish County, the rebound was a much-needed respite after April’s historic unemployment of 19.2% and May’s minimal improvement to 16.2%.

State economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said the 6.4% unemployment decrease was astounding, but so too was the original rise.

“It is important to look at the broader context of not only what happened over the month, but what happened over the year and how it all fits together into what is a very unique picture,” said Vance-Sherman, a regional labor economist for the agency covering Northwest Washington.

June’s sharp unemployment decline across Washington was the largest month-to-month reduction since at least 1990. Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted a gain of 71,000 jobs in Washington bringing the state’s monthly unemployment rate below the national mark for the first time in 2020.

Countywide, 500 jobs were added in June, with the retail trade industry, specifically general merchandise and food and beverage stores, adding the most jobs.

Still, since June 2019, Snohomish County has seen a decrease of 28,900 jobs and 44,000 people remain unemployed. The government sector was battered the worst with a loss of 900 jobs.

“There are going to be some jobs that will snap right back, because you have that pent-up demand with more certainty in the environment,” Vance-Sherman said. “I also don’t expect all of the jobs to bounce right back.”

Throughout the state, the 12.4% unemployment rate in Grays Harbor and Ferry counties was the highest. Counties in southeastern Washington have the lowest unemployment rate including Whitman County at 6.1% and Asotin County’s 6.2% mark.

Nearby, King County is at 9.2% and Skagit County was higher at 11.3%. These numbers may change as they are adjusted for predictable seasonal variation.

As local counties, including Snohomish County, moved into Phase 2 and restaurants, retail stores, places of worship, barber shops and nail salons open with capacity restrictions, Vance-Sherman said a correlation in the unemployment rate has been evident.

“I think there is less uncertainty around what activities can and cannot be done and how they can be done and I think having more certainty leads to the ability to hire more people or bring more people back,” she said. “I see it as changing that environment from highly uncertain to a little bit less uncertain.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to https://www.heraldnet.com/support/.

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