Grays Harbor unemployment rises to 9.2%; remains 7th highest statewide

Washington’s unemployment rate is one of the worst in the country despite job growth

For the fifth consecutive month, Grays Harbor County’s unemployment rate has failed to drop despite maintaining its status as the seventh-highest jobless rate throughout Washington, according to the state’s Employment Security Department’s (ESD) February 2023 statistics released to the public on Tuesday, March 28.

The 9.2% unemployment rate in February throughout Grays Harbor County, which is 0.4% higher than ESD reported in January and is a far cry from the 5.8% jobless rate documented in September 2022, trails only Ferry, Stevens, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Yakima and Garfield counties. Those counties have unemployment rates of 14.3%, 10%, 9.7%, 9.6%, 9.5%, and 9.4%, respectively.

The increasing unemployment rate throughout the Harbor doesn’t align with the current analysis for Washington, as the state maintained its jobless rate and broke a four-month-long trend of rising unemployment. According to ESD statistics, Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 4.6%, the same percentage as reported for January. Compared to the previous year, the February 2022 unemployment was 4.4%

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has Washington tied for the third-highest unemployment rate in the country, trailing only Nevada and Oregon, the state continues to see an increase in job growth. According to BLS, preliminary estimates indicate nonfarm employment in Washington rose by 15,300 in February 2023 on a seasonally adjusted basis. BLS estimates the private sector gained 12,600 jobs during the month and the public sector gained 2,700 jobs.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, estimates for February 2022 through February 2023 indicate an increase in employment of 125,000 for the state. The private sector gained 106,700 jobs while the public sector gained an estimated 18,300 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 January 2023 preliminary estimated gain of 10,800 jobs was revised to a gain of 12,700 jobs.

Overall, employment increased in 10 major industries and decreased in three in February. The largest increase in the number of jobs throughout Washington was in the professional and business services industry at 4,600, with 2,200 jobs gained in administrative and support services. The transportation, warehousing, and utilities industry saw the biggest decline in unemployment, losing 1,500 jobs.

Coming off a historic 53-year low of 3.4% reported for January, the national unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6% for February. According to the United States Department of Labor as well as the BLS, more than 5.9 million people are unemployed across the country, an increase of 240,000 people compared to January.

Preliminary county data for March will be available for the public on April 25. Seattle and Metropolitan Division data will be available on April 19.

Contract Reporter Allen Leister at 360-463-3572 or