"State’s November Unemployment Rate Drops Dramatically , Pierce County Hits 3.8 Percent"

“Washington’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically to 4.0 percent, the lowest November rate since the Boeing boom in 1966, according to the Employment Security Department. The not seasonally adjusted rate was down nearly one full percentage point from the same period one year ago. “The half percentage drop from October squeezed Washington’s already tight labor market another notch,” said Commissioner Carver Gayton. “Overall, labor force growth has slowed in recent months and labor force participation rates have flattened, putting ever-increasing pressure on the pool of available workers as the economy continues to expand.”The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell eight-tenths of a percentage point, also to 4.0 percent and below the 4.1 percent national rate.Total nonfarm wage and salary employment increased by 10,800 workers, stronger than the 7,700 rise recorded in the same month a year agoWholesale and retail trade, in particular, got off to a cheery holiday season start with an 8,700-worker gain led by heavy pre-Christmas hiring in general merchandising, up 3,600, and apparel and accessories, up 2,800. Non-durable wholesaling was down 1,400, as processing of the state’s apple harvest wound down for the year.Eating and drinking places lost 300 positions while seasonal hiring in public and private education added 6,700 workers, with significant gains posted also in business services, up 1,300 and health care, up 600. Tourism cutbacks impacted hotels and lodging places, which were down 800 and the amusement and recreation industry, down 2,200.Construction employment dropped 4,700, with the heaviest losses in roads and public works, down 1,900 and special trades, down 1,900. Manufacturing payrolls fell by 3,300, led by seasonal pullbacks in food processing, dipping 2,300 and lumber and wood products, cut 300.Jobs in aircraft and parts dropped 800 to 91,500 – down 21,500 or 19 percent from the high in June of last year. The employment outlook for this industry forecasts perhaps another 5,000 to 6,000 cutback in 2000. Ship and boat building added 200 workers. Machinery and electronics payrolls went up 200.Over the year, manufacturing payrolls were off 16,500, with losses in forest products, cut 1,100 and aircraft and parts, down 19,400. Gains did come in primary and fabricated metals, up 1,700, fruit and vegetable processing, which grew 1,100, and machinery and electronics, up 900.Construction added 9,000 and wholesale and retail trade expanded by 18,200. Services employment jumped by 23,800, with strong growth in business services, up 9,100, health care, up 3,000, and engineering and management services which rose 3,100.Total nonfarm wage and salary employment adjusted in collaboration with the Office of the Forecast Council was up 44,000 or 1.7 percent.In Pierce County, the unemployment rate dropped one complete percentage point to a 3.8 percent not seasonally adjusted rate.Total nonagricultural wage and salary employment reached 244,500, up 1,400 from October, and 4,300 from one year ago. The total resident labor force in Pierce County was pegged at 337,800, with 324,800 employed. The total workforce was up 1,200 from the same period last year, while the number of unemployed workers dropped 1,900.Construction was down 700 from October to 13,900, a drop of 300 from one year ago. Manufacturing rose slightly from last month’s figures to 23,700, still down 1,100 from a year ago. The largest losses came in nondurable products manufacturing, with losses in food and kindred products; textiles, apparel and leather; paper and allied products; printing, publishing and allied.Services producing industries grew by 2,000 over October, and were up 5,700 from the same period last year. While some sectors were flat from October’s figures, they were still up from last year.Wholesale trade was down 100 positions from October, but still up 200 from November of last year. Retail trade showed mixed results, with food stores up 200 from October but down 100 from a year previous, while automotive dealers and service stations were down 100 both from October and from a year ago. Department, apparel and accessory stores rose 400 over October’s numbers, but actually declined 200 from one year ago. Eating and drinking places employment performed similarly, rising 400 positions over October’s numbers while declining 100 from a year previous. Other retail trade grew 700 over the previous months total for a one-year gain of 600 positions.Services employment was down 600 from October’s figures, but up an impressive 3,900 from the previous year’s total. Sectors posting big gains over one year ago were private educational services, up 800, and hospitals, up 200. Sectors dropping included nursing and personal care facilities, down 300, and other health services, down 400. Other services employment rose 3,500 over the same period last year, while dropping 700 from October’s figures.A total of 200 Pierce County workers remained listed in labor disputes as the Kaiser Aluminum lockout continued into its second year.With Pierce County dipping one percentage point down to its encouraging 3.8 percent not seasonally adjusted rate, other South Sound counties followed suit. Thurston County posted a rate just one-tenth of a percent higher, and nine-tenths of one percentage point down from October’s numbers. Kitsap County posted a rate of 4.3 percent, 1.2 percentage points down from the month previous, and Mason County posted a rate of 4.6 percent, down nearly a full percentage point from October, and 1.2 percentage points down from November 1998.Across the state, Columbia County reported the highest statewide not seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers, posting an even 13 percent rate for November, up from October’s rate of 11.7 percent. The rate was lower than the November 1998 rate of 17.2 percent, however.Adams County was the only other county to report an unemployment rate of higher than 10 percent, posting an even 11 percent rate, up significantly from their October rate of 5.7 percent, but down from the 14.1 percent rate of the same period one year ago.Whitman County posted an enviable rate of 1.4 percent, lower than October’s rate by two-tenths of one percent, and a full half-percent lower than the same period one year ago.Asotin County seemed to follow closely at 1.7 percent, six-tenths of a percent lower than October’s rate and 2.2 percentage points lower than figures for November 1998.Unemployment rate statistics for November are preliminary.”