Kitsap Economy Picks Up, But Long Road AheadMay 19th, 2010 by Rachel Pritchett
About half of the 800 new jobs were in the private sector,
including 300 in retail.
By Rachel Pritchett
Kitsap County’s unemployment rate plummeted in April to 7.2 percent from 8.5 percent in March.
The state announced that 800 new jobs had been added here in April. Kitsap’s labor force rose to 82,700.
Half of the job gains were in the private sector. Within that, retail gained 300 jobs.
The gain reflected a rise in the national retail sales rate, which was half a percent higher in April than in March and 4.6 percent more than a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.
Elizabeth Scott, local economist for the Washington Department of Employment Security, said that while the increase in retail jobs couldn’t be pinned on any single big store opening, consumers were starting to shop more.
Mindy Byers, marketing manager at Kitsap Mall, said Navy families already are starting to relocate to Bremerton in anticipation of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz arriving in December.
She said the mall’s gross sales have increased 2 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year.
A clothing store, rue21, and Hale’s Alehouse both will open at the mall in July.
Also in the private sector, another 100 jobs were gained in the leisure and hospitality industry as travelers set out for the season.
Another 400 jobs were gained in government, and half of those were in state government, according to the new statistics.
Margaret Hess, manager of public employment office WorkSource of Kitsap County, is seeing fewer people come in for help.
“We’re seeing more people go to work across the different sectors,” she said.
Locally, that means the marine trades.
Hess expects at least
80 positions to become available between June and August in journeyman-level jobs for sand blasters, electricians and pipe fitters as defense contractors pick up speed.
The job listings are on the employment office’s website, www.go2worksource.com. Select “Bremerton,” then “Installation, Maintenance and Repair.”
The number of construction jobs in Kitsap County did not grow at all in April, but Hess said she’s seeing a few more listings go up in her office.
Kitsap’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.8 percent in February, the highest rate in at least two decades and probably longer.
Washington’s unemployment rate fell in April to 9.2 percent from 9.5 percent in March. The state has added 14,800 jobs so far this year, and in April the gains were in leisure and hospitality, government (including temporary Census jobs), construction and manufacturing.
“I’m pleased to see growth in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which suffered the biggest losses in the recession,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.
But the local and state economy have a lot of ground to gain before any true recovery takes place.
Kitsap’s work force in April was still 3,600 jobs shy of what it was in April 2008.
Statewide, there were 173,000 fewer jobs this April compared with April 2008.