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More Skagit County residents are working, and businesses are hiring more workers, according to a recent report from the state Employment Security Department.

The labor force, which includes those employed and those actively seeking work, grew by 4.5% over the past year, the report found. Among Skagit County residents, about 2,260 more are employed compared to April 2018.

The report noted an unemployment rate of 5.6%.

Between April 2018 and April 2019, Skagit County businesses added 1,300 jobs, according to the report. Construction, logging and mining industries saw 8.9% growth, while local government saw 3% growth.

In April, fewer Skagit County residents received unemployment benefits compared to a year ago, and there was an increase in job postings compared to the previous year, according to the department.

Regional Labor Economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said when the unemployment rate goes down, the balance of power shifts to workers.

“Workers are in demand, and employers are having a much more difficult time finding the trained workers they need,” she said.

Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County CEO John Sternlicht said the rebound in employment following the Great Recession is not surprising.

“Expansion is going on, and that puts a squeeze on the labor market,” he said. “Another part is a lot of the skills needed for the jobs of today require more or different skills than used to be needed.”

Apprenticeships, career-connected learning and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs are helping address the gap, he said.

“You have to have the soft and hard skills the market needs,” Sternlicht said. “If you do, you’re in a good position.”

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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