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Job gains: Grant County unemployment drops between February 2020 and February 2021

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | April 15, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Unemployment in Grant County dropped between February 2020 and February 2021, but rose between January and February 2020.

The unemployment rate was 8.1% in February 2021, down from 9% in February 2020. However, unemployment was up from 7.9% in January 2021.

Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington Department of Employment Security, said unemployment rose in Grant County from April to November 2020, when compared with the same period in 2019. But the county’s unemployment rate has decreased, when measured year over year, from November 2020 to February 2021.

The construction, non-durable manufacturing and wholesale trade sectors have driven the decrease.

“Monthly nonfarm employment had been expanding modestly, year over year, for the past seven months, August 2020 through February 2021,” Meseck said.

Employment in the county’s construction sector has increased for the past 15 months, from December 2019 to February 2021. The construction industry generated 1,780 jobs in February 2021, an increase of 220 jobs over February 2020.

“Average annual employment estimates indicate that the growth in this Grant County industry has been phenomenally good,” Meseck said.

Employment in the manufacturing sector has posted gains, when measured year over year for four months, November 2020 through February 2021. That followed a 31-month decline, January 2018 through October 2020. The manufacturing sector gained 510 jobs from February 2020 to February 2021, Meseck said.

“All the strength in these manufacturing numbers occurred in non-durable goods manufacturing, primarily in Grant County’s food processing sector,” he said.

The wholesale trade sector also has benefited from the agriculture sector. About 60% of the jobs in wholesale trade were in the non-durable goods sector in 2019, the last year for which statistics are available.

“Year over year in Grant County, wholesale trade employment has either stabilized or increased in each of the last nine months, June 2020 through February 2021,” Meseck said. “Most wholesale trade of non-durable goods businesses are dependent on central Washington’s agricultural industry.”

There was even some good news for the county’s leisure and hospitality industry, which was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated closures. That sector has been growing for the last four months, November 2020 through February 2021. That follows job losses from April to October 2020.

The news was not so good in the state and local government sector, which includes public education.

“This February, estimates indicated there were 350 fewer state and local government education jobs countywide versus February 2020,” Meseck said. “Average annual job estimates indicate this sector lost 320 jobs between 2019 and 2020, ranking state and local government education as the sector which lost the most jobs in Grant County during 2020.”