July's jobless rate up in county

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Unemployment crept up slightly in July from the previous month in Walla Walla County but was down in Garfield and Columbia counties, according to numbers released this week from the state Employment Security Department.

Walla Walla’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in July, reflecting an uptick from June’s 6.8 percent posting. Last month’s jobless rate was an improvement from July 2011, when it was 7.1 percent.

Regional labor economist Ajsa Suljic said the biggest decreases over the month have been in educational services and government positions. The number of unemployed grew by about 10 people total, though employment actually decreased by about 650 people over the month.

The numbers reflect not only a loss in jobs, but also a change in the labor force, Suljic said.

“July is one of those months that a lot of people are not looking for a job actively,” she explained. “They didn’t become unemployed; they’re just completely out of the labor force.”

Helping to offset the loss of jobs in educational services and government sectors was growth over the month in natural resources and mining (20 jobs) and transportation and warehousing, and federal government, which each added 10 new jobs. Over-the-year growth has been most noticeable in natural resources and mining, which has added 90 jobs since last July; educational services, which has added 180; state and local government education, which posted a year-over-year gain of 60 jobs; and transportation and warehousing, which has added 20 jobs since last July.

In Columbia County, unemployment for July dropped to 9.4 percent from June’s rate of 10.1 percent and the previous July’s 10.7 percent.

Garfield County’s July jobless rate dropped to 7.2 percent from June’s 7.4 percent. That figure was up from the 6.5 percent unemployment rate posted by the county in July 2011.

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