Unemployment rate falls to pre-recession levels

  • By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor
  • Tuesday, April 23, 2013 3:51pm

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s unemployment rate in March took another steep decline, falling from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent.

Unemployment rates have been falling since early 2010, following seasonal trends, Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist for the Employment Security Department, reported in an employment data analysis she released Tuesday. For comparison, the unemployment rate in March 2012 was 8.3 percent. March 2013 marks the first time the unemployment rate in Snohomish County has fallen below 6 percent since September 2008 and the start of the Great Recession. The county’s unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent in January 2010.

Nonfarm employment in Snohomish County expanded by 100 from February to March 2013, with a March total of 262,200, Vance-Sherman reported. Employment in the private sector as a whole grew by 300 in March; the public sector shrank by 200. From March 2012 to March 2013, 5,000 jobs were added to the local economy. The private sector has been responsible for most new jobs year-over-year (5,100).

Snohomish County’s labor force stood at 387,360 in March, with 365,290 employed and 22,070 unemployed, Vance-Sherman noted. Month-to-month, Snohomish County’s labor force contracted by 2,230. The number of employed grew by 290, and the number of unemployed decreased by 2,520.

The largest share of unemployment insurance claims in the county continues to come from workers in construction-related occupations, she reported. The top five occupational groups filing initial claims in March were construction and extraction, office and administrative support, management, production, and transportation and material moving.

From February to March, initial and continued claims for unemployment insurance decreased, and the number of exhausted claims increased, Vance-Sherman reported.

Snohomish County’s goods-producers are concentrated in the manufacturing and construction sectors. From February to March, manufacturing employment lost 200 positions and construction industry employment gained 100 jobs. Year-over-year, goods-producing industries created 2,700 new jobs — a 3.5 percent growth rate.

Month-to-month growth in the construction sector was attributable to the largest construction industry: specialty trade contractors, Vance-Sherman said. Heavy and civil engineering construction and construction of buildings held their ground in March. Year-over-year, construction employment is up 400 jobs. Year-over-year gains were counted among specialty trade contractors and construction of buildings.

Workers and employers in construction have suffered losses above and beyond most industries in the Great Recession. The lowest level of employment appears to have occurred in 2011, Vance-Sherman observed. For the last several months, year-over-year comparisons of construction employment indicate employment growth.

Manufacturing payrolls shed 200 jobs in March. Industry losses over the month came from Snohomish County’s largest industry employer: the aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry, she said. On a year-over-year basis, aerospace manufacturing is responsible for the lion’s share of new hiring in manufacturing in the county. Aerospace stagnated during the recession and early recovery period, but picked up hiring momentum in early 2010.

Although in recent months, hiring has slowed, year-over-year counts indicate the addition of 2,500 direct aerospace jobs, equalling 5.7 percent growth for the industry, Vance-Sherman said.

Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing industries remained unchanged over the month, and dropped by 300 over the year.

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; kbatdorf@heraldnet.com.

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