Walla Walla-area jobless rate falls for February

The rate for Walla Walla County was a hair lower than in the previous month.

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Unemployment in Walla Walla County dipped slightly in February with growth in nonfarm employment, the state Employment Security Department reported.

The jobless rate for the month was 8.4 percent, compared to 8.5 percent in January. It also reflected a decrease of .4 percent from February 2012. The overall rate was higher than the state’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment of 8.2 percent.

During the month of February, an estimated 2,530 people were unemployed and looking for work in Walla Walla, said regional labor economist Ajsa Suljic.

She highlighted bright spots in the county: An increase in nonfarm employment over the year of 850 jobs.

She said service-providing industries gained 850 jobs, and goods producing industries added 110. Losses in nonfarm jobs over 2012 came from the government with about 130 jobs.

Between January and February this year, Walla Walla County saw growth in retail (40 jobs), health care and social assistance (70 jobs) and state and local governments (120 jobs). Durable goods manufacturing added another 10 jobs between January and February.

The greatest job losses between January and February came in leisure and hospitality with 90 jobs. That was followed by agriculture and construction, with a loss of 50 jobs.

Columbia County’s unemployment for February was 11.8 percent — a drop from January’s 12.2 percent. About 190 unemployed workers were looking for work last month, Suljic said. Total nonfarm employment in the county was estimated at 1,260 in February. That reflects an increase of 40 jobs from January and 40 from February 2012.

In Garfield County, nonfarm employment was down about 30 jobs in February for an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent.

That figure was up from January’s 10 percent. An estimated 100 people were unemployed and looking for work. Ten jobs were added from February 2012.

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