Monday, March 4, 2024

Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties reflect varied economic health in latest employment figures

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In the economic landscape of North Central Washington, Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties show diverse employment trends, according to the latest data released by the Employment Security Department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Chelan County's unemployment rate sits at 5.5%, with Douglas County at 6.1% and Okanogan County at a higher 7.3%, pointing to a varied economic recovery across the region.

These local figures emerge in the context of Washington state's overall labor market experiencing a positive shift, with a preliminary seasonally adjusted increase of 7,700 nonfarm jobs in December 2023. While the state's unemployment rate edged up to 4.2% from November's 4.0%, it remained lower than the previous year's rate of 4.5%.

The state's employment surge is led by the private sector's addition of 6,600 jobs and the public sector's contribution of 1,100 jobs. Over the year, not seasonally adjusted, estimates indicate an overall job increase of 54,200 for Washington, with the private sector adding 34,800 jobs and the public sector adding 19,400 jobs.

Seasonally adjusted data, which smoothens out the expected seasonal hiring trends, such as the holiday uptick in retail, provides a clearer view of the employment changes. For example, despite a typical seasonal decrease from November to December, Washington's estimated employment in December rose by 4,500 jobs, resulting in a seasonally adjusted gain of 7,700.

The leisure and hospitality sector led these gains, with a substantial increase in employment, partially driven by hiring in food services and drinking places. Professional and business services, as well as the manufacturing sector, saw growth, especially in aerospace and food manufacturing.

In contrast, the construction sector faced the sharpest decline for the month, while the information sector experienced a significant reduction over the year. The BLS U-6 rate, which includes the total unemployed, marginally attached workers, and those employed part-time for economic reasons, indicates a broader measure of labor underutilization at 7.5% for Washington.

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