Snohomish County gained about 40,000 jobs in June as companies added back workers sent home as the COVID-19 pandemic started, according to figures released last week by the state Employment Security Department.
The plunge, mirrored across the state, sent the county’s jobless rate down to 9.8%, which is the biggest month-to-month drop going back at least to 1990, but still historically high. About 44,000 people in the county remain unemployed.
“The gain in nonfarm payroll employment coupled with the revision to May’s job gains are a welcome surprise and another step in the right direction,” state economist Paul Turek said. “That said, the road ahead looks to be bumpy as the virus continues to spread, creating a less predictable situation for the economy reopening.”
Snohomish County is rebounding after posting the state’s highest jobless rate in April at 19.2%, meaning about 91,380 of the county’s labor force of 453,000 people were without work. The county’s unemployment rate in February was 2.8%.
Economists point to counties, such as Snohomish County, moving into Phase 2 as the major driver, allowing employees of restaurants and retail stores to return to work.
Island County, which has moved into Phase 3, saw a similar drop in the unemployment rate, down to 9.2% in June from 13.7% in May.
The statewide jobless rate fell to 9.7%, and the national unemployment rate dropped from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June. This is the first time since September 2014 that the state unemployment rate is lower than the national rate.
Statewide, all job sectors except information and government saw gains, led by retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services.
During the week of July 12-18, there were 29,438 initial regular unemployment claims filed in Washington, down 27.3% from the prior week, according to the ESD.
“This past week, for the first time since the pandemic began, all initial claim types as well as continued and ongoing weekly claims decreased,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said. “We are making excellent progress on our efforts to resolve the claims for those who have been waiting the longest, having reduced that backlog by nearly 75%.”
In Snohomish County, initial regular claims filed decreased from 4,614 to 3,499, down 24% from the week before.