The Pierce County economy added 2,100 jobs in October, helping to lower the county’s jobless rate to 8 percent last month from 8.3 percent in September, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.
The 8 percent jobless rate for the county is the lowest since 2008, Employment Security data show. The public sector, mostly in education, added 2,300 jobs in the September-to-October period, while the private sector showed a net loss of 200 jobs in the same period.
Private-sector hiring numbers were pulled lower last month because the Puyallup Fair came to an end, resulting in 1,600 job losses in the category of leisure and hospitality, regional economist Paul Turek said.
There were some bright spots, though, within the private sector, Turek said.
Holiday hiring resulted in 400 jobs in retail trade and 100 jobs in food services, both sectors outperforming hiring data from the same period last year, he said.
Retail trade added only 100 jobs last year and the food service category cut 400 jobs last year. Improved numbers this year could be a sign that businesses expect a better holiday shopping season, Turek said.
Another bright spot is that the county has added 12,000 jobs year-to-date to local payrolls, compared to 6,800 jobs in the same year-to-date period in 2011.
“Either way you look at it, we’re moving forward,” Turek said about the economy.
Although the local economy has shown improvement this year, the outlook for next year remains cloudy due to federal and state government budget woes, he said.
At the federal level, for example, a combination of higher taxes and spending cuts to address the budget deficit could slow growth, Turek said.
By the numbers
Regional jobless rates for October, not seasonally adjusted:
• Kitsap County: 6.6 percent.
• King County (Seattle, Bellevue): 6.7 percent.
• Thurston County: 6.9 percent.
• Pierce County: 8 percent.
• Mason County: 9.4 percent.
• Lewis County: 11.3 percent.
• Grays Harbor County: 11.3 percent.Source: Employment Security Department Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog@rolf_boone