BIZ-JOBS-TBW

Kittitas County’s unemployment rate showed an increase between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the state Employment Security Department.

In a nation and state experiencing record low unemployment rates, Kittitas County’s unemployment rate is bucking the trend, according to the report issued by the state Department of Employment Security.

Kittitas County’s unemployment rate for March was 6.7 percent, up from 5.9 percent recorded in March of 2018. The national unemployment rate for this April was 3.6 percent. The state unemployment rate for March was 4.6 percent.

This upturn comes after Kittitas County registered a 5.3 percent unemployment rate between 2017 and 2018 — the lowest since electronic records were implemented in 1990.

According to the report, the county’s labor force grew from March 2018 to March 2019 by 2.2 percent (23,098 total), putting 503 more residents in the labor pool. But at the same time the number of unemployed grew at a faster rate — 15.8 percent.

“Hence, Kittitas County’s unemployment rate increased eight-tenths of a point between the Marches of 2018 and 2019, from 5.9 to 6.7 percent. Year over year, the local rate has been on the rise now for the past six months (October 2018 through March 2019) — a trend which bears watching,” the report states.

RISERS, FALLERS

Within the job categories measured, the county saw year to year job increases in the following:

n Mining/logging/construction, 12.6 percent (1,070 jobs in March 2019)

n Wholesale trade, 3.3 percent (630)

n Retail trade, 1.1 percent (1,830)

n Information and financial activities, 1.7 percent (590)

n Education and heath services, 6.2 percent (2,570)

Within the job categories measured, the county saw year to year job decreases in the following:

n Transportation, warehousing and utilities, -4.2 percent (230)

n Professional and business services, -12.5 percent (560)

n Leisure and hospitality, -4.5 percent (2,570)

n Federal government, -7.7 percent (120)

n State and local government, -2.5 percent (7,020)

STRENGTH IN CONSTRUCTION

Digging deeper into the construction numbers, according to the state report, the county’s construction workforce has been growing for 12 consecutive months.

“In fact, the construction industry in Kittitas County has been growing faster than that of Washington for the past nine months,” the report states.

The state report also contains information on the county’s housing market, compiled by KMW Enterprises of Selah.

The report states, “the number of homes sold in Kittitas County from January through March of this year was 158, down 10.2 percent from the 176 homes sold during the 1st Quarter of 2018. Conversely, the dollar value of all home sales countywide increased by 10 percent, from $60.2 million in the 1st Quarter of 2018 to $66.2 million in the 1st Quarter of 2019. Still, the average home price in Ellensburg dipped from $310,166 from January through March 2018 to $303,913 in the 1st Quarter of 2019, down by 2.0 percent.”

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