"State Unemployment Drops in April, Pierce County Posts Small Rise Over 1999 Numbers"

“Increased hiring for seasonal jobs as the rest of the economy held firm, helped to drop Washington’s unemployment rate by four-tenths of one percentage point in April to 4.4 percent, according to Employment Security Commissioner Carver Gayton.The April rate was three-tenths of a percentage point below a year ago and the lowest reading for the month in three decades, Gayton said. Typical upturns took place across much of the economy including agriculture and food processing, construction, trade, and services.The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate inched up one tenth of a percentage point to 4.6 percent, immediately below the 4.7 percent average in 1999, and seven-tenths of a percentage point above the 30-year low of 3.9 percent nationwide.Total nonfarm wage and salary employment rose by 14,600 compared to 11,500 in April of 1999. Manufacturing payrolls grew by 1,200 with most of the increase in food processing, up 1,400, as the state’s asparagus harvest got underway.Aircraft and parts manufacturing dropped by 600 jobs, significantly less than the 1,600-a-month average in 1999. The state is speculating the heaviest of the aircraft industry’s downsizing is over. The cumulative pullback during the past 21 months now totals 25,500 or 22 percent down from the high in July 1998.Lumber and wood products exhibited no change. Paper and allied products dropped by 100 jobs, while machinery and electronics rose by 100.Construction added 4.500 workers, with much of the growth centered in heavy construction, up 1,700, and special trades, up 2,200.Wholesale and retail trade expanded by 3,600, led by spring upswings in building materials and garden supplies, up 700, auto dealers and service stations, up 800, and eating and drinking places, up 1,900.Services employment jumped by 4,900. Seasonal hikes occurred in hotels and lodging places, up 900, and amusement and recreation, up 1,000, as the weather began to warm. Business services added 700 workers, while health care was down 100, and engineering and management services crawled up 100 jobs.An additional 1,100 census workers were added to the federal rolls, bringing the total temporary hiring to 3,000.During the past 12 months, manufacturing employment in the state dropped 15,000, with nearly all of the loss centered in aircraft and parts, down 14,900. Others include lumber and wood, down 600, paper and allied products, down 200, and food and kindred products, down 500. Gains came in machinery and electronics, up 700, and fabricated metals, up 500.Construction expanded by 7,800 and wholesale and retail trade added 16,500. Services employment jumped by 27,100, led by strong growth in business services, up 13,500, health care, up 3,800, and engineering and management services, up 3,500.Total nonfarm wage and salary employment adjusted in collaboration with the Office of the Forecast Council was up 57,700, or 2.2 percent.Pierce County reported a not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, compared to a 4.3 percent rate for April 1999. The county had an April 2000 workforce totaling 336,200 workers, with 14,700 unemployed.Thurston County reported an even 4.0 percent rate, compared to a 4.3 percent rate for April 1999.In Pierce County, total nonagricultural wage and salary employment was up 1,900 positions over March 2000 totals, and up 5,500 from the same period last year.Goods producing rose a total of 1,000 positions over April 1999, with construction up 500 over March figures, and 1,100 over last year’s numbers. Manufacturing was down 100 for the month, as well as the year, with losses for the year in food and kindred products, down 100, textiles, apparel and leather, down 100, printing, publishing and allied products up 100 jobs, and rubber and miscellaneous plastics products down 300 jobs over April 1999.While lumber and wood products was down 100 from March, the sector was up 100 over last year’s figures. Metals, primary and fabricated was up 300 over April 1999, while machinery, computers, electronic and electrical equipment dropped by 200.The services producing sector was up 1,500 over March numbers, and up 4,500 over the same period last year. Trade grew by 1,300 positions, with wholesale trade rising by 700 and retail trade by 600.Food stores remained flat, while auto dealers and services stations; and department, apparel and accessory stores both dropped by 100. Eating and drinking places rose by 300 over April 1999, and other retail trade grew by 500.Finance, insurance and real estate was up 100 for the month, but down 200 over last year’s figures.Services was up just 300 for the month, but 2,400 for the year. Hotels, rooming houses, camps and other lodges remained flat, while business services dropped 400 positions. Health services rose by 800 with gains in hospitals and other health services categories. Private educational services was down by 400.Government hiring was up 500 over March, and 1,300 over April 1999. Federal hiring rose by 300 for the year, while state jobs increased by 100 since April 1999.Local government hiring rose by a total of 900, with most of the growth in public schools.Ferry County was the only county reporting a non-adjusted double-digit unemployment rate, posting an even 16.0 percent. Whitman County, with only 320 people unemployed from a workforce of 20,730, posted a rate of 1.5 percent for April.”