The South Sound economy moved in opposite directions in July, as Pierce County continued to add jobs while Thurston County felt the seasonal effect of the legislative session coming to an end.
The result, though, was that unemployment rates inched slightly higher in both communities, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.
Pierce County’s jobless rate climbed one notch to 6.4 percent in July from 6.3 percent in June, and Thurston County experienced the same bump, rising 6 percent last month from 5.9 percent in June, the data show. Both Washington state’s jobless rate and the federal jobless rate were at a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in July.
The bigger picture for Pierce County showed that it continues to be a job-making machine, adding 500 jobs in the June to July period, with most of those gains lifted by the trade, transportation and utilities sector, Employment Security regional economist Jim Vleming said. The county’s unemployment rate went up because more people were entering the workforce, looking for jobs.
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Toot your horn, Pierce County: In the past year, the county has added 14,600 jobs — 3,300 in construction — translating into a job growth rate of 5 percent, which is higher than the statewide job growth rate of 3.5 percent over the same period, Vleming said.
Thurston County, a community that is joined at the hip by state government, shed 800 jobs in the June to July period, largely pulled lower by the end of the legislative session, he said.
The one positive note is that the county didn’t lose as many jobs this time as it did in the same June to July period in 2014. Last year, the county shed 2,100 jobs, Vleming said.
By the numbers
Regional jobless rates for July, not seasonally adjusted:
▪ King County: 4 percent
▪ Kitsap County: 5.6 percent
▪ Thurston County: 6 percent
▪ Pierce County: 6.4 percent
▪ Mason County: 7.9 percent
▪ Lewis County: 8.4 percent
▪ Grays Harbor County: 8.6 percent
Source: Employment Security Department