Walla Walla County jobless rate edges upward

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Walla Walla County's unemployment rate climbed to 8.5 percent in January as part of a typical post-holiday uptick, Employment Security officials said.

The jobless rate jumped almost 1 percentage point from December but was down from a year ago when it was 9.2 percent, said regional labor economist Arum Kone.

He said Walla Walla County gained about 290 jobs over the last year.

Between December and January, however, there was a decrease in employment of about 520 jobs. Many of those were seasonal, including retail positions and jobs at area colleges that had let out for the winter break.

Kone said educational services, health care and government have remained the strongest sectors in job gains.

Walla Walla posted one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Whitman County had the lowest at 6.3 percent; Ferry County had the highest at 15.7 percent.

Neighboring Columbia County had a 12.7 percent jobless rate in January. Garfield County posted an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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