The Pierce County economy created 2,500 jobs in March, but it wasn’t enough to create much of a dent in its jobless rate.
That was essentially unchanged at 9.8 percent, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.
The county’s unemployment rate largely was unchanged because the preliminary jobless rate for Pierce County in February also was 9.8 percent, the data show.
A year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was 10.5 percent.
The county’s overall labor force continues to grow, up to 397,940 in March, its highest point since December 2009, regional economist Paul Turek said Tuesday.
The 2,500 jobs created in the February-to-March period – 600 in professional and business services – also was more than the 1,400 created during the same period last year, he said.
“The modest movement forward is continuing,” Turek said about Pierce County’s economy.
But if that’s the case, how come the jobless rate isn’t lower?
That’s because the economy isn’t growing fast enough to absorb new job seekers trying to take advantage of a slowly recovering economy, he said.
The result is a jobless rate that remains elevated, Turek said.
Thurston County’s job market experienced more of the same last month as its jobless rate also was unchanged at 8.4 percent, even as it added 600 jobs in the February-to-March period, regional economist Jim Vleming said.
Leading the way in job growth last month was the category “government” with 200 new jobs in higher education and K-12, he said.
Vleming still expects the county’s jobless rate to fall in the coming months once seasonal hiring begins, such as in construction.
Seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment was 8.3 percent in March, and the national jobless rate was 8.2 percent.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/bizblog Twitter: @rolf_boone