Pierce County unemployment rises above 7 percent in May

Don’t despair Pierce County job seekers: The economy did pretty well considering a slight uptick in the jobless rate last month.

That’s because the county added 2,100 jobs in the April to May period, showing gains in construction, trade, transportation and utilities and education and health services, state Employment Security Department regional economist Jim Vleming said Tuesday.

Over the year -- May 2013 to May 2014 -- the county added 9,100 jobs, translating into an annualized job growth rate of 3.2 percent, which is better than the state’s job growth rate of 2.5 percent, he said. In the year-over-year period, construction added 1,400 jobs, retail trade 900, professional and business services 1,100 and the leisure and hospitality sector added 900 jobs.

Still, the jobless rate, after falling to 6.4 percent in April, climbed back up to 7.2 percent in May. Although plenty of jobs have been added since April, the jobless rate can bump up as more people enter the labor force, he said.

May's unemployment rate was still lower than the same period a year ago when it was 8.3 percent, the jobless data show.

Regional jobless rates for May, not seasonally adjusted:

-King County (Seattle, Bellevue): 4.8 percent

-Kitsap County: 6.1 percent

-Thurston County: 6.3 percent

-Pierce County: 7.2 percent

-Mason County: 8.4 percent

-Lewis County: 9.5 percent

-Grays Harbor County: 10.5 percent