Unemployment falls on North Olympic Peninsula

Unemployment fell by more than 1 percentage point on the North Olympic Peninsula last month despite no net change in the number of Clallam and Jefferson County jobs, state officials said.

Clallam County added 50 jobs in May as unemployment dipped from a revised 7.4 percent in April to a preliminary 6.2 percent in May, the state Employment Security Department reported last week.

Jefferson County shed 50 jobs in May while its jobless rate fell from a revised 7.4 percent in April to a preliminary 6.1 percent in May, Employment Security said in a monthly jobs report.

“I think things are looking pretty rosy if we look at the nonfarm numbers,” said Jim Vleming, Employment Security regional economist, in a June 23 interview.

“We’re definitely headed in the right direction, and I think with summer going on, that’s going to do nothing but help the economy overall.”

Unemployment rates are the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively looking for work. The rates can be skewed by changes in the size of a labor force and do not account for residents who commute to other counties.

“There wasn’t much movement over the month in Clallam or Jefferson (counties),” said Vleming, whose territory also includes Grays Harbor, Mason, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

“Nonfarm was only up 50 (jobs) in Clallam, and most of that was government. But over the year, we’re up 1,640, with a lot of that government, construction, manufacturing, professional business services and trade. So a pretty good mix of growth.”

Clallam County’s jobless rate was 15.1 percent in May 2020. Jefferson County had 14.6 percent unemployment in May 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were in full effect.

“Last May, we had 4,400 Clallam County residents looking for work, and this year we’ve got only 1,700,” Vleming said.

“So that’s a pretty good turnaround.”

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