Local jobless rate higher

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Walla Walla County's unemployment for August inched up from a year ago but remains relatively low compared to the rest of the state, according to figures released Tuesday from the Employment Security Department.

The jobless rate for Walla Walla County was posted for August at 7.2 percent -- a slight increase from the 7.1 percent unemployment rate for August 2010.

Although the unemployment figure is low compared to the state's rate of 9.3 percent, the community suffers from a lack of new jobs, said regional labor economist Arum Kone.

Walla Walla County has lost 520 jobs between August 2010 and last month. That's a 2.2 percent decrease in jobs. The trend began in the private sector but has continued to carry over into government work as well.

With the exception of three sectors -- manufacturing, wholesale trade and "other" services -- all others are showing decreases in employment, Kone said.

"The same trends are going on from last year," he explained Tuesday. "There's softness in the public sector and in private."

He said an unemployment increase from July's 6.8 percent rate is typical for the season.

Columbia County posted a 10 percent unemployment rate for August, while Garfield County had a 6.1 percent jobless rate.

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

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