Unemployment fell in Kitsap County to 6.8 percent in September

Kitsap County had one of the lowest rates of unemployment in Western Washington at the end of September.

At 6.8 percent, Kitsap was second only to San Juan County west of the Cascades. Nearby King County had 7 percent unemployment while Jefferson County to the west was at 7.8 percent. The unemployment rates were not seasonally adjusted.

However, along with the rest of the state, Kitsap County did see a jump in initial unemployment claims during the week ending Oct. 10, the last week for which data is available.

There were 585 initial claims, up from 369 the prior week. This mirrors large jumps in initial claims in the state’s largest counties. King County saw an increase of 45 percent, as did Pierce County, while Snohomish County recorded a 52 percent increase and Spokane County’s tally went up 61 percent.

The state saw a 44.1 percent increase in initial unemployment claims while the economy added 2,400 jobs in September in the state’s monthly estimate. Unemployment in Washington decreased from 8.4 percent to 7.8 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department.

Overall employment grew modestly as the state recovers from the 528,600 jobs lost in April closer to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Payroll growth slowed markedly in September,” said Paul Turek, economist for the ESD. “A shift to remote learning apparently led to less government hiring than usual this time of year, which showed up largely in local education.”

During the week ending Oct. 10, there were 22,324 initial regular unemployment claims and 476,735 claims for all unemployment benefit categories; the latter number was down 5.9 percent from the prior week. Initial claims levels are still 252 percent above the same week in 2019.

The ESD paid out over $153 million in benefits for 318,534 claims during the week of Oct. 4-10. The department has now paid more than $11.6 billion in benefits to over one million residents since the pandemic began.

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims were accommodation and food services (2,234 claims, up 22 percent); manufacturing (1,687 claims, up 57 percent); construction (1,676 claims, up 2 percent); retail trade (1,649 claims, up 27 percent); and health care and social assistance (1,532 claims, up 18 percent).

More individual workers exited the labor force in September as the state saw a decrease of about 55,800 people from August. The Puget Sound region’s labor force decreased by 19,600 the same month. The number of unemployed individuals dropped from 333,600 to 303,400 between August and September. In Puget Sound, it fell from 126,400 to 119,900 that month.

In September, private sector unemployment went up by 12,100 jobs, while government unemployment fell by 9,700 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sectors gained the most jobs with 6,700. Construction added 2,700 jobs while management and professional services added 2,000.

Among the contracting industries were manufacturing (lost 1,900 jobs), wholesale trade (down 700 jobs) and transportation, warehousing and utilities (down 400 jobs).