More join labor force; unemployment rises slightly

More than 800 North Olympic Peninsula residents joined the labor force last month as Clallam County and Jefferson County unemployment rates inched upward in October, state officials said.

Clallam County’s jobless rate went from a revised 6.2 percent in September to a preliminary 6.4 percent in October, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Jefferson County unemployment went from a revised 5.5 percent in September to a preliminary 5.6 percent in October, officials said.

Clallam County had 26,666 working residents and 1,834 seeking work last month. Clallam County gained 328 workers and 103 who were counted as unemployed in October.

Jefferson County had 12,062 employed and 713 seeking jobs last month. Jefferson County also had gains in the number of people working (373) and the number of unemployed (28).

A person is counted as unemployed if he or she is able to work and had actively sought work in the past month.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, older than 16.

In October 2018, unemployment was 5.6 percent in Clallam County and 4.9 percent in Jefferson County.

Meanwhile, state employers shed 1,600 jobs in October and the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly from 4.6 percent in September to 4.5 percent last month, Employment Security said.

“The labor market continues sending mixed messages this month,” said Paul Turek, an Employment Security economist.

“Household members are finding jobs in spite of businesses reporting rollbacks. What’s becoming more evident overall is that hiring conditions are softening.”

The national unemployment rate went from 3.5 percent in September to 3.6 percent in October, Employment Security said.

In October 2018, the national unemployment rate was 3.8 percent and the state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent.

Employment rates at the county level are not seasonally adjusted.

King County had the lowest unemployment in the state at 2.7 percent, followed by Snohomish (3.0 percent) and San Juan (3.9 percent) counties.

Ferry County had the highest unemployment at 9.6 percent, followed by Pend Oreille (7.8 percent) and Pacific (7.1 percent) counties.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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