For the fourth straight month, more people were working in Chelan and Douglas counties as tourism surged and retail continued a slow, steady climb. The two-county jobless rate dipped in March to 9.6 percent, a 0.6 percent improvement over the same month last year. That raised the number of job holders to levels not seen in four years.
Regional labor economist Mark Berreth said “We’ve seen strong gains in the private sector with government employment flat — mixed signs that nonetheless add up to improvement for Chelan and Douglas counties.
County figures released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department echoed last week’s announcement of a sharp drop in the state’s overall jobless rate.
Locally, the leisure and hospitality sector showed the largest March gains, jumping 8.5 percent from the same month last year to add nearly 400 jobs.
Other sectors showing some year-to-year gains in Chelan and Douglas counties were manufacturing, financial and professional services and transportation and utilities. Sectors showing little or no growth were construction, government, education and health services.
The number of employed should increase in coming months as migrant farmworkers return to the area to fill seasonal ag jobs.