Grays Harbor jumps to 8.8 percent unemployment; 7th highest statewide

Jobless rate drops to 53-year low nationwide while Washington continues to climb

For the fourth consecutive month, Grays Harbor County’s unemployment rate has failed to drop, rising to the seventh highest throughout Washington, according to the state’s Employment Security Department’s (ESD) January 2023 statistics released earlier this week.

The 8.8% unemployment rate in January throughout Grays Harbor County, which is 1.2% higher than ESD documented in December, trails only Ferry, Yakima, Stevens, Okanogan, Grant and Pend Oreille counties. Those counties have unemployment rates of 13.8%, 9.7%, 9.6%, 9.6%, 9.2% and 9.1%, respectively.

The increasing unemployment rate in Grays Harbor appears to follow the same trajectory as Washington, as the state also saw its unemployment rate rise for the fourth consecutive month. According to ESD statistics, Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January is 4.6%, continuing its climb from the December 2022 unemployment rate of 4.2%. Compared to the previous year, the January 2022 unemployment rate was 4.4%

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has Washington tied for the third highest unemployment rate in the country, it hasn’t stopped the state from seeing an increase in job growth. According to BLS, preliminary estimates indicate nonfarm employment in Washington rose by 10,800 in January 2023 on a seasonally adjusted basis. BLS estimates the private sector gained 9,800 jobs during the month and the public sector gained 1,000 jobs.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, estimates for January 2022 through January 2023 indicate an increase in employment of 138,400 for the state. The private sector gained 121,300 jobs while the public sector gained an estimated 17,100 jobs over the year. Given that BLS estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses, the preliminary estimates are subject to revision. The December 2022 preliminary estimated gain of 2,500 jobs was revised to a gain of 7,700 jobs.

Overall, employment increased in nine major industries, decreased in three, and was unchanged in one throughout January. The largest increase in the number of jobs was in the construction industry at 2,300, with 900 jobs gained from residential building construction. The information industry saw the biggest decrease in employment, losing 400 jobs.

From a national perspective, unemployment reached a 53-year low as the jobless rate fell to 3.4% in January from 3.5% in December. It’s the lowest unemployment rate recorded since May 1969. While economists predicted the unemployment rate to rise and national job growth to stagnate, the opposite appears to be the case.

The January jobs report showed that non-farm payrolls increased by 517,000, far higher than the 187,000 estimated. Leisure and hospitality added 128,000 jobs to lead all sectors. Other significant gainers were professional and business services (82,000), government (74,000), and health care (58,000). According to the United States Department of Labor as well as the BLS, 5.7 million people are unemployed across the country, a decrease of 28,000 people compared to December.

Preliminary county data for February will be available for the public on March 28. Seattle and Metropolitan Division data will be available on March 22.

Contact Reporter Allen Leister at 360-463-3572 or