Unemployment throughout the Harbor rises for third consecutive month

Grays Harbor County tied for the eighth-highest unemployment rate at 7.6%

Despite dropping from the fourth-highest unemployment rate to a tie for the eighth-highest throughout Washington, Grays Harbor County still saw a rise in the overall unemployment rate according to the state’s Employment Security Department’s (ESD) December 2022 statistics released last week.

The 7.6% unemployment rate in December throughout Grays Harbor County trails only Ferry, Yakima, Grant, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Okanagan and Franklin counties. Those counties have unemployment rates of 11%, 8.8%, 8.3%, 8%, 8%, 7.9% and 7.7%, respectively. Adams County recorded the same unemployment rate as the Harbor.

While the Grays Harbor unemployment rate increased only slightly from the 7.4% recorded in November 2022, it marks the third consecutive month that the county has seen the stats climb. The state-wide unemployment rate has also seen a three-month increase in unemployment with the December recordings putting Washington at a 4.2% unemployment rate in comparison to the 4% unemployment rate seen in November. Although Washington possesses the ninth-highest unemployment rate throughout the United States, it’s still less than the 4.5% unemployment rate that was recorded a year prior in December 2021.

While the trend seems concerning, some economists view the statistics differently.

“Job growth appears to be slowing,” said the ESD state Economist Paul Turek. “The December jobs report brings another sign that the labor market is beginning to soften but still remains very strong.”

Turek’s assessment stems from December’s job growth. According to the monthly unemployment report posted by ESD, Washington’s economy gained an estimated 2,500 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in December. Industries such as leisure and hospitality as well as education and health services saw the biggest growth in employment with 2,400 and 1,300 new jobs added, respectively. Construction took the biggest hit of all the non-farm industries, seeing a decrease of 3,700 jobs, with 2,900 jobs lost from specialty trade contractors.

Over the year, Washington gained an estimated 121,200 jobs from December 2021 to December 2022, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 3.8%, up an estimated 110,000 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 2.0%, up an estimated 11,200 jobs.

From a national perspective, unemployment saw a decrease for the second consecutive month recording a 3.5% unemployment rate in December compared to 3.6% in November. According to the United States Department of Labor as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.7 million people are unemployed across the country, the lowest since July 2022.

Preliminary county data for January will be available for the public on March 7. Seattle and Metropolitan Division data will be available on March 1.

Contact Reporter Allen Leister at 360-463-3572 or allen.leister@thedailyworld.com