Area sees healthy jump in jobs, metro and county data reports show

Latest employment data show a robust jobs market in the Tacoma/Pierce County area.
Latest employment data show a robust jobs market in the Tacoma/Pierce County area. Associated Press file, 2018

The latest federal Bureau of Labor Statistics metro report concerning employment nationwide (not seasonally adjusted) offers some surprising news for the Tacoma-Lakewood area.

The area was a standout in percentage increase over the July 2017-July 2018 time period, according to Thursday’s report, which looks at how metro areas across the country are doing in employment and unemployment.

“The largest over-the-year percentage increase occurred in Tacoma-Lakewood (+4.9 percent), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, (+3.6 percent), and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (+3.5 percent),” the report stated.

That translates into about 15,400 jobs in the 12 months in the Tacoma-Lakewood metro area. Nationwide, the area that added the most jobs was the New York-Jersey City-White Plains area with 121,000.

Nationally, according to the report, “In July, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 17 of the 38 metropolitan divisions over the year and remained essentially unchanged in 21.”

Separately, WorkForce Central’s monthly employment reports for Pierce County overall also show a significant jump in local job creation compared with past years.

From July 2017 to July 2018, 15,800 jobs were added overall in the county. Biggest growth was in professional and business services at 4,500 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality at 3,100 jobs.

In previous years, 9,800 jobs were added from July 2016 to July 2017 and 7,700 from July 2015 to July 2016.

That’s potentially good news for those wishing to stay here and work, instead of commuting.

“This significant growth in employment proves that our local economy is strengthening,” said WorkForce Central CEO Linda Nguyen. “In July, the Pierce County unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent for the first time this year, which is fantastic.

“We’ve had such solid job growth that we’ve gone three months without year-over job losses in a single industry sector.”

Yet, Nguyen points out, there still are people needing work.

“While we celebrate this good news,” she said, “we need to remember that we still have much work to do to assist the 20,114 people in Pierce County who are unemployed, and countless others who are underemployed and not reaching their full potential.”

Pierce County’s unemployment number in July was 4.8 percent, higher than the state’s 4.2 percent and the nation’s 4.1 percent.

While different factors affect the rate, said WorkForce Central communications director Candice Ruud, “Our unemployment rate hasn’t reflected the percentage growth in jobs in large part because people who had dropped out of the labor force are rejoining the labor force because demand for workers hasn’t been this high in over a decade.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell