[8/10/16] Local 2016 Unemployment Rates Higher Than 2015

Posted in Business & Economy


The first six months of 2016 all sported higher unemployment rates than in 2015. It shouldn’t be of any surprise, said Regional Labor Economist Don Meseck, because it started the month Alcoa shut down their aluminum smelter near Malaga. The unemployment for June this year was 5.3 percent, almost a full percentage point above June last year, Meseck said.

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“…unemployment rate rise year over year.”

The labor force however has posted year-over-year growth for the past 11 months. Meseck said for June it expanded at a modest one percent. He said it’s likely that comes from the agricultural industry, since non-farm jobs aren’t really going up.

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“…more bad than good news there.”

So essentially the number of people losing their job or already unemployed outweighed the new people entering the labor force.

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“…without feeling the pain.”

So which industries are more resilient in the two-county area? Tourism, for one, and certainly this time of year. The leisure and hospitality sector gained 100 jobs between June last year and June this year. Retail trade also gained 100 jobs. Government jobs were also up – federal government 200 jobs, state 100 and local 400.

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“…for 26 consecutive months.”

Most of the job losses occurred in manufacturing (again, Alcoa smelter) and construction – 200 jobs there. The transportation and warehousing category was also down but Meseck said he expects that to be more of a blip than a trend as the cherry and apple harvest will bring those sectors back up in the July data.

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“…June of 2015.”

So despite the gains in government, tourism and retail, the manufacturing and construction industries put job growth in the negative percentile. Couple that with the unemployment rate overtaking the gains in the labor force, and the area saw a net loss of 500 jobs in June.

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“…Junes of 15 and 16.”

The two counties aren’t seeing growth anywhere close to the statewide average, but how do Chelan and Douglas compare to other central Washington counties?

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“…three point one percent growth clip.”

2016 may be seeing lethargic growth and Meseck added the hurt from Alcoa’s smelter shutting down will be felt for months to come, he said the numbers will tick up in the fall thanks to the apple and pear harvests.