Unemployment inches up in Grant County

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MOSES LAKE — Grant County unemployment dropped between January and February, but was higher this February than in February 2018.

The unemployment rate for February was 9.4 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January. But that’s up from 8.7 percent in February 2018. “Between the Februarys of 2018 and 2019 the local labor force grew by 1,487 residents, a 3.3 percent upturn. Less encouraging is the fact the number of unemployed increased at an 11.3 percent pace,” wrote Don Meseck, regional labor economist for Washington Employment Security.

The unemployment rate for 2018 as a whole was 6.2 percent, the lowest since at least 1990, Meseck said. “Between the Februarys of 2018 and 2019 local non-farm employment netted 510 new jobs,” Meseck wrote. “Year over year, total non-farm employment in Grant County has been growing for the past 14 months.”

The unemployment rate shows the effect of a turbulent manufacturing sector. The durable goods manufacturing sector “has posted year-over-year losses for 14 months, January 2018 through February 2019.” Durable goods manufacturing lost 190 jobs between February 2018 and February 2019, Meseck wrote. “Local durable goods manufacturers have not fared well, in aggregate, for the past three calendar years.” The durable goods manufacturing sector lost jobs in 2018 and 2016, and was stagnant in 2017, he said. The news is better in the nondurable goods sector, with employment going up by 170 jobs, 6.3 percent, between the Februarys.

The construction sector also grew year over year. “Construction employment in Grant County has been rising for the past 14 months.” Between the Februarys the construction sector added 160 jobs, Meseck said.

The professional and business services sector also has added jobs for 14 months. “This category consists of a diverse set of niche industries. Within professional and business services, temporary employment is likely accounting for much of this employment upturn - an encouraging economic sign.” That sector grew by 150 jobs between February 2018 and February 2019.

The “transportation, warehousing and utilities” sector also added jobs year-over-year, although it lost jobs between January and February 2019. The wholesale trade sector added jobs, 100 jobs year-over-year, and so did the retail trade sector, which added 60 jobs between the Februarys. The education and health services sector, however, lost 50 jobs between February 2018 and February 2019.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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