County unemployment up in October, but at lowest monthly rate in four years

The Grays Harbor County unemployment rate was 6 percent in October, up from September’s 5.5 percent, but still considerably lower than the 8 percent high for the year recorded in January, according to numbers released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.

Grays Harbor County still finds itself tied for the third-worst unemployment rate in the state with Pend Oreille and Wahkiakum counties. Ferry County in Northeast Washington continues to have the worst rate at 8.1 percent. Pacific County is second worst with 6.1 percent.

This is the lowest Grays Harbor County unemployment rate for October in the past four years, according to the state. In 2015, the rate was 8.2 percent; in 2016, 7.5 percent; and in 2017, 6.2 percent. The October 2018 rate is, in fact, the second lowest rate since January 2015, eclipsed only be the below 6 percent rates registered in July, August and September of this year.

Of the civilian labor force of 28,675 in Grays Harbor County, 1,712 were unemployed in October, up from 1,540 out of a civilian labor force of 27,944 in September. By comparison, in October 2017 the civilian labor force was 26,551 with 1,761 out of work; in September 2017, the workforce stood at 26,335 with 1,763 unemployed.

Nonfarm employment stood at 23,660 in the county in October, up 130 from September. By comparison, October nonfarm employment was up 600 over this time last year, and 1,120 over October 2017. Goods-producing jobs were down slightly in the county in October compared to September, but have overall been on the rise since 2015 in mining, logging, construction and manufacturing jobs.

Service jobs continue to employ the most people in the county, and the numbers, while down in October overall, have been trending toward the positive over the past three years, 18,840 in October 2016 compared to 19,450 this year.

Federal government employment in the county has held pretty steady over the past three years, but state and local government employment grew by 460 jobs between September and October of this year, most of those state and government education positions.

In Pacific County, the labor force grew slightly between September and October, 8,466 to 8,530. However, the unemployment rate rose from 5.3 percent in September to 6.1 percent in October as the total number of unemployed rose from 451 to 523.

Employment Security reported 12,400 jobs were gained in October across the state; the largest growth was reported in the service providing category. Statewide the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in October. The county with the lowest unemployment rate, 3.2 percent, was King, and four other counties came in at under 4 percent unemployment: Adams, Asotin, Cheland, Snohomish and Walla Walla.