A declining unemployment rate in the South Sound over the last several months lured more people to re-enter the job market last month causing unemployment percentages to jump upward in Pierce and Kitsap counties, new figures from the state show.
In Thurston County, the situation was different. There the workforce declined by 420 workers, but the number of employed declined even faster, 940 fewer jobs, resulting in the higher unemployment rate.
“It’s a phenomenon that we usually see in the spring especially if people perceive that the economy is improving,” said Jim Vleming, regional economist for Washington State Department of Employment Security. “The jobs available don’t match the additional demand.”
Here are the numbers released Tuesday: Pierce County’s not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent last month compared with 8 percent in April. Thurston County saw its unemployment rate jump to 7.3 percent from 6.8 percent in May. Kitsap County saw its unemployment rate rise to 7.1 percent in May compared with 6.7 percent in April.
Meanwhile, King County’s unemployment numbers continued to decline. Just 4.3 percent of the workforce there was unemployed last month compared with 4.4 percent in April. There the number of people joining the labor force, 9,650, was less than the number who landed new jobs, 10,270, state statistics show.
Although South Sound unemployment rates were up across the board over April, all three counties’ rates remained comfortably below May 2012’s levels.
In May last year, Pierce County’s unemployment rate was 9.1 percent rate, 0.7 percentage points more than the same month this year. In Thurston County, the May 2012 unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, 0.6 percentage points more than May 2013. Kitsap County’s unemployment rate of 7.1 percent was 0.5 percentage points more than the same month a year ago.