Harbor jobless rates for November tick upward

For the first time since July, Grays Harbor County’s unemployment rate nudged above 11 percent to 11.3 percent for November, just a tenth of a percent lower than last year at this time. The uptick reverses a trend of slightly lower jobless rates for the county: August, 10.8 percent, September, 10.4 percent and October 10.7 percent.

All numbers reported are not seasonally adjusted. Grays Harbor County unemployment has been in double digits since the summer of 2008.

“Not much to pick from in terms of good news,” said Jim Vleming, regional labor economist with Employment Security. The county also lost 550 non-farm jobs, sliding from 21,750 jobs to 21,200 jobs over the year, he added. Much of the losses hit manufacturing as employers such as Harbor Paper were shuttered, he said. “Those closings run through the system (as a company) starts up and shuts down, and starts up and shuts down,” Vleming said.

“The only up news is government jobs were up by 50 jobs over the year since November 2012,” he added.

Pacific County also saw an increase in November’s unemployment rate, to 10.4 percent, or four tenths of a percent higher than October.

Pacific County’s briefly dipped into single digits for the first time since 2008 in August and in September.

Pacific County’s unemployment is also down from last year, by two tenths of one percent. It also gained 130 non-farm jobs from 5,400 to 5,530, from November 2012 to November 2013.

“Pacific County is moving in the right direction, slowly. They are kind of in the same boat, no pun intended,” Vleming said.

Vleming noted that Lewis and Grays Harbor counties have been at or close to the top of state’s unemployment rate for most of the year. “Some of rural counties (it) seems like a lump of coal for the holidays. It might seem that way from the numbers, anyway.”

Recovery in the rural counties from the economic recession is “slow, slow, slow,” he said.

The state’s overall unemployment rate of 6.5 percent is much better, he said. The overall rate is pulled up by lower jobless rates in populous counties such as King and Snohomish.

Special long-term unemployment benefits, authorized by Congress during the recession, were triggered again recently, when the state briefly went above 7 percent. However, special long-term benefits were not renewed in the latest federal budget, Vleming said, adding, “I think it’s still kind of up in the air about how it will impact (people) locally. We should know how many shortly after the first of the year.”

Congress has not renewed special long-term benefits before, and then voted to renew them several times over the recession, he said.


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