South Sound unemployment rates noticeably improved in March, falling at least a percentage point in Pierce and Thurston counties, according to new jobless data released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.
But that’s where the comparisons end because job growth did not uniformly improve in both counties during the February to March period, said Employment Security regional economist Jim Vleming on Tuesday.
Pierce County’s jobless rate fell to 6.5 percent last month from 7.6 percent in February, while Thurston’s jobless rate fell slightly more than a percentage point to 6 percent from 7.1 percent, the data show.
Pierce County added 1,500 jobs in the period, with construction and education and health services each adding 500 jobs. In the past year, Pierce County has added 8,100 jobs, with most of those job gains coming from education and health services, construction and retail trade, Vleming said.
In contrast, Thurston County showed job gains in some sectors — 200 jobs apiece in professional and business services and leisure and hospitality — but after a combination of gains and losses across all industry sectors, the net result was a loss of 100 jobs, he said.
In the past year, Thurston County has added 4,000 jobs, with leisure and hospitality leading the way with a gain of 900 jobs, Vleming said.
Seasonally adjusted Washington state unemployment was 5.9 percent in March. The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent for the same month. The national labor participation rate was 62.7 percent in March, down from 62.8 percent in February, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.