November jobless rate: GH second highest, Pacific fifth

The unemployment picture on the Twin Harbors continues to be challenging, as both counties saw increases in their jobless rates in November.

Grays Harbor logged the second highest jobless rate in the state at 11.4 percent, a .4 percent increase over October.

Pacific County’s unemployment rate inched up by .2 percent to 10.5, tying it with Pend Oreille County for the fifth highest in the state.

Neighboring Lewis County edged Grays Harbor for the highest rate at 11.5 percent. Wahkiakum and Ferry counties joined Grays Harbor and Lewis with rates above 11 percent — 11.2 percent and 11.1 respectively. After Pacific and Pend Oreille counties, Stevens (10.4 percent), Columbia (10 percent), Cowlitz (9.9 percent) and Franklin (9.8 percent) rounded out the top 10.

At 5.2 percent, Whitman County, in the state’s southeast corner had the state’s lowest jobless rate. San Juan County was next lowest at 5.7 percent. Statewide, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from October at 7.3 percent.

All numbers — including the statewide rate — are not seasonally adjusted. The state Employment Security Department does not release seasonally adjusted rates for counties.

The county’s unemployment rate peaked for the year in March at 14.1 percent, but been below 12 percent for three straight months. Pacific County’s jobless rate also peaked in March at 13.4 percent, and that county has now seen three straight months below 11 percent. Whether that’s because the employment picture has gotten better or people have simply lost their unemployment benefits and are no longer included in the calculations is up for debate.

Though the state’s numbers are much lower, that trend is mirrored statewide. Washington’s jobless rate peaked a month earlier in February at 9.2 percent, and has now seen three straight months below 8 percent. Before September, the state hadn’t seen sub-8 percent unemployment since December of 2008 — the same month Grays Harbor was last below 12 percent.