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Adams County 2020 unemployment rate rises slightly from 2019

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 13, 2021 1:00 AM

RITZVILLE — Unemployment in Adams County went up in November 2020, compared with November 2019. Unemployment also went up between October and November 2020.

But the increase in unemployment was relatively small, up to 5.8% in November 2020, compared to 5.5% in November 2019. The unemployment rate for November 2020 was slightly lower than November 2018.

The unemployment rate for October 2020 was 4.1%, a substantial increase from month to month, but Adams County traditionally experiences a rise in unemployment over the late fall and winter months.

Don Meseck, regional labor economist for the Washington State Department of Employment Security, said the county’s transportation and warehousing sector has been growing, even as the economy has been struggling due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Adams County’s education and health services sector also added jobs between the Novembers. That category doesn’t include public schools, Meseck said.

The county’s unemployment rate has been higher, year over year, from April to November. But the losses have been less severe in Adams County than in other areas of Washington, Meseck said.

“The lion’s share of jobs lost in Adams County between the Novembers of 2019 and 2020 were in government, federal, state and local,” Meseck wrote. ”Employment in this sector declined by 80 jobs, a 4.7% downturn.”

More than 90% of the government employment in Adams County is in the local sector.

“A large share of those positions are at local public schools or in public health services,” he said.

Government employment in Adams County dropped each month between May and November, which follows the state trend.

Statewide, a lot of those lost jobs were in education.

“Hence, much of the recent year-over-year downturn in government employment, statewide and countywide, is attributable to COVID-19 layoffs at local public schools,” Meseck wrote.

The news was better in the county’s health services sector. Employment increased by 110 jobs between November 2019 and November 2020.

The transportation and warehouse sector has been in what Meseck called “hiring mode” from June through November. The sector added 60 jobs when measured year over year.

“It is likely that much of this upturn is due to hiring at agriculture-related trucking, warehousing and storage firms,” Meseck wrote.