Whatcom County’s unemployment rate dropped significantly in April, hitting its lowest level since the end of 2008.
The local unemployment rate last month was 7.2 percent, down from a revised rate of 7.9 percent in March, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department. It’s the lowest level since December 2008, when the unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.
The drop in Whatcom’s unemployment rate was mostly due to unemployed people finding work rather than discouraged workers leaving the labor force, said Reinhold Groepler, a local labor economist for the state.
The number of Whatcom County residents employed totaled 102,160, which is up 4,390 compared to April 2011. The number of people unemployed last month shrunk by 630 in the past year to 7,920.
The number of Whatcom County residents employed is the highest total since November 2008. The peak employment took place in August 2008, when the total was 104,450.
April tends to be a period when the unemployment rate drops in Whatcom County. According to the ESD, the 22-year average indicates a 0.7 percent point drop between March and April, which is also what happened this year.
In the non-farm private sector, trade and transportation added 1,100 people in the past year, while manufacturing added 500 people. Interestingly, travel and leisure had a significant drop, shrinking by 600 people.
This will be updated later today on the main business page of bellinghamherald.com.