Jobless numbers, jobs created rise in county

The unemployment rate held steady amid the mixed news and remains below the statewide figure.

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The number of jobs created and the number of unemployed residents grew in Walla Walla County last month.

The combination of the two left the county's unemployment rate unchanged from June to July, according to figures released Tuesday by the Employment Security Department.

Walla Walla County's jobless rate held at 6.7 percent, the same rate as June but up from 5.9 percent in July 2009.

The local figure looked better than the state's 8.6 percent unemployment rate. But Regional Labor Economist Arum Kone said Walla Walla may not have seen the worst of the job impacts yet.

"It's hard to be overly optimistic when you see a lot of softness in some of the sectors that have provided a lot of cushion," Kone said.

He said job losses in the community came from the state and local government, retail, professional and business services and construction sectors.

Nonfarm employment has grown over the last year about a half a percent or by 115 jobs, Kone said. Over the month, nonfarm employment dropped 1.2 percent from June. Kone characterized the pattern of decline as "typical for this time of the year."

He said continued claims for unemployment insurance generated in the county are closing in on the 2009 rates and are double the historic numbers. Initial claims are also close to the 2009 numbers, reflecting the "tight labor market for new employment," he said.

At the state level, payrolls were down 2,300 in July due to the elimination of an estimated 5,400 government jobs, the majority of which were federal census jobs, Employment Security reported.

So far in 2010, Washington has added 21,100 private-sector jobs. Including government jobs, there has been a total net gain of 19,800 jobs during the past seven months.

"Job growth is still wobbly, but the private sector is showing encouraging signs of life," said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee, in a prepared statement.

An estimated 306,218 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work, and 239,773 people received unemployment benefits from Washington in July.

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