South Sound unemployment rates inch higher in May

South Sound unemployment rates inched higher in May but for different reasons, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.

Pierce County created 3,100 jobs in the April to May period, but more people looking for work can sometimes cause the jobless rate to rise. That was the case in Pierce County last month as it inched up to 6.5 percent from 6.2 percent in April, the data show.

Of the 3,100 jobs created over the month, 1,000 of them were in construction, said Jim Vleming, a regional economist with Employment Security.

Last month’s job growth also was in line with past growth.

In the April to May period for 2014, the county added 1,700 jobs, and the year before that, the county added 2,400 jobs, Vleming said.

In the past year, the county has added 12,100 jobs, he said.

Thurston County, though, was a different story last month as the county shed 700 jobs, mostly in state government and education, which caused the jobless rate to rise to 6 percent last month from 5.6 percent in April.

Vleming thinks the jobs were lost as a result of seasonal cuts, although the number of state government jobs lost could dramatically increase if the state budget isn’t passed by midnight June 30.

“Hopefully they’ll get a budget together,” he said.

Also surprising was leisure and hospitality shed 200 jobs between April and May, which might mean that Thurston County hoteliers did not see as much business from the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as previously thought.

In the past year, Thurston County has added 3,900 jobs.