Jobless rates on the rise again

Federal emergency benefits end for thousands

— With the end of harvest season, unemployment in North-Central Washington has started to tick back up.

Okanogan County ended November with 8.9 percent unemployment, according to the latest figures released by the state Employment Security Department.

Ferry County had the second-highest unemployment in the state at 11 percent, not seasonally adjusted. Douglas County unemployment was the lowest of the three at 6.7 percent.

Although Okanogan County unemployment was higher than the 6.3 percent recorded in October, it was one-tenth of a percentage point lower than November 2012, according to the regional report.

About 260 people found work between October and November.

The numbers in Ferry County are less promising: unemployment jumped 1.2 percent from October to November, and increased by one-tenth of a percent from last year. Of the total 2,740 people who comprise the civilian labor force, 300 were reportedly out of work in November.

Statewide, seasonally adjusted unemployment was 6.5 percent in November, holding steady with October figures. Around 4,000 jobs were lost and 235,200 people were looking for work.

“November typically is not a robust month for employment, so we weren’t expecting to see a big turnaround,” labor economist Paul Turek said. “The jobs data show there’s still some lingering weakness in the state’s labor market.”

In nonfarm employment, goods-producing jobs made a leap of nearly 78 percent in Ferry County, and the natural resources and mining industry grew by 12.5 percent. Service jobs declined about 5 percent, along with government jobs.

Jobs in transportation and warehousing in Okanogan County soared by 93 percent over the past year, far and away the largest increase of all non-farm industries.

However, the county lost 300 jobs from October to November.

Over the year, the state has gained 34,600 jobs and has regained about 78 percent of the 205,000 jobs lost in the recession that began in 2008.

More than 101,000 people claimed unemployment benefits in November, but about 25,000 lost their federal emergency benefits when the program ended Saturday.

Since its inception in July 2008, the program paid out around $6.3 billion in benefits to more than 452,000 unemployed residents across the state. Without the federal funds, most workers will only be able to claim up to 26 weeks.

There’s been no indication Congress will vote to continue the program, according to the state agency.


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