South Sound employers cut jobs after the holiday shopping season, which resulted in higher Pierce and Thurston County unemployment rates in January, according to state Employment Security Department data released Tuesday.
The Pierce County jobless rate rose to 6.7 percent in January from 6.2 percent in December, while in Thurston County it rose to 6.3 percent from 5.9 percent over the same period.
Pierce County shed 3,900 jobs in the December to January period, including 1,500 in retail trade. Thurston County shed 200 jobs in the same period. The county posted a gain of 500 jobs in government to coincide with the start of the Legislative session, but shed 700 jobs in retail trade, said Jim Vleming, a regional economist with the state.
In the past year — January 2015 to January 2016 — the jobs picture was brighter in both counties. Pierce County added 8,400 jobs, translating into an employment growth rate of 2.9 percent, he said. Thurston County added 3,400 jobs in the same period, a employment growth rate of 3.2 percent, Vleming said.
The employment growth rates in both counties outpaced the statewide employment growth rate of 2.2 percent over the same January to January period, he said.
Seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment in January was 5.8 percent.
Regional jobless numbers for January, not seasonally adjusted:
▪ King County: 5.2 percent
▪ Kitsap County: 5.9 percent
▪ Thurston County: 6.3 percent
▪ Pierce County: 6.7 percent
▪ Mason County: 8.5 percent
▪ Lewis County: 8.8 percent
▪ Grays Harbor County: 10 percent
Source: Employment Security Department