Unemployment drops on Peninsula

North Olympic Peninsula employers added 390 new jobs last month as the unemployment rate dropped by 1 percent in Clallam County and by 1.1 percent in Jefferson County, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Clallam County’s unemployment rate fell from a revised 11.3 percent in March to

10.3 percent in April.

Jefferson County’s unemployment rate dropped from 10.8 percent to 9.7 percent last month.

Both counties saw across-the-board growth in the private sector with fewer people collecting unemployment checks.

“People are feeling really confident about getting back out there and looking for work,” said Elizabeth Scott, regional economist for Employment Security.

Clallam County gained 280 jobs in April while Jefferson County added 110.

“Every one of those numbers is a person going back to work,” Scott said.

“It’s really nicely across the board, which is what we want to see.”

April’s drop in unemployment was the largest on the Peninsula since April 2010, when the jobless rate fell by 1.5 percent in both counties.

In Clallam County, unemployment peaked at 12.3 percent in January 2010 and February 2010.

Jefferson County’s jobless rate crested at 11.4 percent in those same two months.

Economy picking up

Scott said the 1 percent drop in last month’s unemployment is a sign that the “economy is starting to pick up steam.”

“Overall, the Washington state economy added over 40,000 jobs since last year,” Scott said.

“Basically, people are getting more jobs and feeling confident with the economy.”

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from a revised 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent in April.

“Things are all-around getting healthier again,” Scott said.

Scott cautioned that the Peninsula and other places are still on a long, slow rebound from the recession.

The unemployment rates were the same in Clallam and Jefferson counties last month as they were in April 2010.

Clallam County gained 190 jobs in the private sector and 90 government jobs last month. The biggest gains were made in the trade transportation and utilities sector, which gained 50 jobs.

First-time unemployment claims in Clallam County dropped from 613 in March to 511 in April, while continued claims fell from 1,353 to 1,171.

Service-providing jobs fueled the growth in Jefferson County last month with 50 new jobs.

Initial unemployment claims held steady at 141 while continued claims dropped from 429 to 365 in Jefferson County.

Ferry County had the highest unemployment in the state last month at 14.4 percent. Whitman County had the lowest at 5.5 percent.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at [email protected]

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