WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla County unemployment dropped in March to 8.1 percent despite weakness in most sectors, Washington's Employment Security Department reported in its latest county-by-county figures, released April 24.
The jobless rate was down from February's 8.6 percent, which also was the rate in March 2011.
Regional labor economist Arum Kone said the number of unemployed residents in the area decreased, but so did the number of employed people.
Between February and March nonfarm employment decreased 250 jobs, or about 1.1 percent.
Kone said total private employment dropped by 190 jobs. The service sector decreased by 180 jobs.
Government declined by 60 jobs, most of which were at the state level, and private education lost 110 jobs.
He said manufacturing, retail sales and health care remained strong.
Columbia County posted an 11.6 percent unemployment rate for March, down from 12.3 percent in February.
Garfield County's March rate was up to 8.6 percent from 8.3 percent the previous month.
Statewide unemployment in March remained flat at 8.3 percent, although 3,300 jobs were added for a third consecutive month of growth.
Oregon's unemployment rate also was stagnant at 8.6 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from February.
U.S. unemployment in March fell to 8.2 percent, down from 8.3 percent in February and 8.8 percent a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.