Skagit County’s unemployment rate soared to 19.1% in April — the third-highest in the state, according to new figures released by the state Employment Security Department this week.

The county’s unemployment rate in March was 5.2%.

Skagit County ranked only behind Snohomish (20.2%) and Grays Harbor (19.4%) counties by unemployment rate in April.

Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist for the ESD, told the Skagit Valley Herald last week that counties bordering saltwater with strong tourism industries have suffered high numbers of job losses during the pandemic.

But unemployment has hit more than just restaurants, hotels and retail establishments. Employment dropped in every sector in Skagit County from April 2019 to April 2020, according to new estimates from the ESD.

In Skagit County, 900 jobs were lost in manufacturing and 1,200 in government sectors, according to the data.

In total, employment in Skagit County dropped by 9,200 from April 2019 to April 2020.

John Sternlicht, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County, said last week that a high level of unemployment has a severe impact on the economy.

While unemployment benefits supplement lost income, it is not full-wage replacement for many, he said. And workers are likely using their paychecks to buy essentials such as groceries and afford housing, but limiting spending in other areas.

“If our manufacturers and producers are not able to sell their goods, that is money not coming into the economy,” he said.

While Washingtonians have received $4.7 billion in unemployment benefits since early March, many are still waiting for benefits, as the state works through an unprecedented number of claims and addresses a recent spike in unemployment fraud.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison:, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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