The good news is the preliminary unemployment rate for July in Grays Harbor County continued to drop for the second month in a row, to 8.2 percent. The not-so-good news is that the county is still tied, with Ferry and Lewis counties, for the highest rate in the state.
The July numbers, released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department, also show a drop in Pacific County’s preliminary rate, to 7.2 percent. Statewide, the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.
Grays Harbor County’s unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is 0.3 percent lower than the revised rate for June. Pacific County’s is 0.6 percent lower, dropping from the revised June rate of 7.8 percent.
“And hopefully we will keep declining,” labor economist Jim Vleming said Tuesday. “I think that is the direction we are heading in at this point.”
All numbers reported are not seasonally adjusted. By comparison, the revised rate for Grays Harbor County in July of last year was 11 percent, and 9.5 percent in Pacific County.
(The rates) are “still high but still better than when we were talking about 11 or 12 percent in the last few years,” Vleming said.
Since the recession began in 2008, Grays Harbor County often reported the highest unemployment. The Twin Harbors have stayed in double digits for years.
The unemployment figures do not count people in the labor force who have stopped looking for work.
More good news is that non-farm employment in both counties on the Twin Harbors has increased, a normal occurrence at this time of year, Vleming said.
Grays Harbor gained 320 non-farm jobs over the month — 190 were in light manufacturing, 80 in leisure and hospitality and 60 in information and hospitality, Vleming said.
“Pacific County did pretty good,” he added. The county gained 120 in non-farm jobs, mainly in manufacturing and retail trade as well as leisure and hospitality.
The labor force has been shrinking across the state, which is reflected in the local numbers. Grays Harbor County has lost 1,550 people since July of 2013. In Pacific County, 510 left the labor force.
“The unemployment rate will probably dip again in August and again in September, good seasonal news,” Vleming added.