Jobless rate keeps climbing on Olympic Peninsula

Unemployment rose by 1.1 percentage points in Clallam and Jefferson counties last month as the leisure and hospitality sector continued to be saddled by COVID-19 restrictions, state officials said.

Clallam County’s jobless rate went from a revised 6.7 percent in October to a preliminary 7.8 percent in November, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Jefferson County unemployment climbed from a revised 6.3 percent in October to a preliminary 7.4 percent in November, according to the jobs report. The two counties shed a combined 100 non-farm jobs in November and 2,030 jobs for the year.

“Those monthly numbers aren’t too bad,” said Jim Vleming, Employment Security regional economist, in a Dec. 22 interview.

“It’s over the year where we get into trouble.”

The unemployment rate measures the number of workers in the labor force who do not have jobs but are looking for work. It does not count those who are out of work but who have given up looking for the past four weeks.

Both counties saw record unemployment in April — 18.8 percent in Clallam County and 17.4 percent in Jefferson County — at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Unemployment rates in both counties fell by more than 5 percentage points in June, rose by 1 percentage point in July and fell by 1 or more percentage points August, September and October.

In November 2019, Clallam County’s jobless rate was 5.9 percent and Jefferson County unemployment was 5.1 percent.

Clallam County shed 330 leisure and hospitality jobs over the year while Jefferson County lost 260 jobs in leisure and hospitality since November 2019, Employment Security said.

Leisure and hospitality had been hard-hit by COVID-19 restrictions, Vleming said.

“I think we’re all kind of anxious to see what 2021 brings,” Vleming added.

Clallam and Jefferson counties each had significant decreases in the size of their labor forces in November.

Clallam County had 2,478 fewer employed residents in November at 26,042, while Jefferson County’s working population fell by 1,238 to 11,435.

“We’re seeing a lot of volatility with the claims data and with the labor force numbers,” Vleming said.

“It’s pretty much volatile month to month.”

The statewide jobless rate remained at 6.0 percent in November with a net gain of 100 jobs, Employment Security said.

“The government sector job losses almost completely counteracted private sector job gains in November,” agency Economist Paul Turek said in a Dec. 16 press release.

“However, the rate of improvement in private employment has slowed, and the latest round of COVID restrictions creates the potential for payrolls to decline next month.”

King and Asotin counties tied for the lowest unemployment in November at 4.3 percent, followed by Snohomish (4.8 percent) and Whitman (5.1 percent) counties.

Grays Harbor County had the highest unemployment in the state last month at 9.6 percent, followed by Pacific (9.4 percent), Pend Oreille (9.0 percent) and Mason (8.7 percent) counties.

More in Business

Staff with the Quality Inn & Suites at the Olympic National Park gather to commemorate receiving the Platinum Award for being among their franchise’s top 3 percent in customer satisfaction. Submitted photo
Quality Inn’s fifth straight Platinum Award makes it one of franchise’s best

Sequim’s Quality Inn & Suites at Olympic National Park, 134 River Road,… Continue reading

Business news — April 14, 2021

Moores joins staff at RE/MAX Prime Real estate agent Brianne Moores has… Continue reading

Jobless rate rises slightly on peninsula while state rate continues to fall

North Olympic Peninsula employers shed 70 jobs in February as Clallam and… Continue reading

Tourism marketing project grant funds available

The Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau is seeking applications for qualified tourism marketing… Continue reading

Homecoming brings native back lead Home Instead

It’s no accident that new owners of the Sequim franchise of Home… Continue reading

Business news — March 24, 2021

Windermere Sequim adds broker Wild to staff Windermere Sequim has added real… Continue reading

What’s Happening at the Market: Market adds partnership to empower business owners

The Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market aims to empower up-and-coming small business… Continue reading

Business news — March 17, 2021

Wind Rose Cellars updates hours Starting April 1 through the rest of… Continue reading

A Stitch In Time Quilt Shoppe opens this week

There’s a saying among some quilters that seems to fall somewhere between… Continue reading

Business briefs — March 10, 2021

Grand reopening set for Stitch in Time A Stitch in Time Quilt… Continue reading

Avamere receives five-star rating from Medicare

Ranking puts it in top 15 percent of skilled nursing facilities

Business briefs — Feb. 17, 2021

Paradise Restaurant reopens Paradise Restaurant at 703 N. Sequim Ave., is reopening… Continue reading