Kitsap unemployment rate rises

By Rachel Pritchett

Kitsap County’s unemployment rate jumped sharply to 7.8 percent in May from an adjusted rate of 7.2 percent in April.

Some 9,660 people were searching for work in Kitsap County in May, up from 8,930 people in April, according to fresh numbers from the state Department of Employment Security.

While more Kitsap residents were searching for work in May, the number of jobs in Kitsap County rose by 1,000 jobs.

The number of jobs can increase even though the unemployment rate rises because more people become encouraged they can find work and re-enter the ranks of job-seekers. Also, the number can increase when people in Kitsap County lose their jobs in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, and the losses are tallied in the county where they live, according to Employment Security economist Elizabeth Court.

All of the growth in the number of jobs in May was in the private sector, including trade, transportation and utilities; tourism; and retail jobs. Some 2,300 private-sector jobs have been added over the year.

Meanwhile, growth in government jobs remained stagnant in May, and over the year have decreased by 600 jobs, mostly in state government.

As of last month, 29,200 Kitsap residents held government jobs, making it tenth in the nation for the percentage of government-related jobs, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Kitsap is home to several military entities, including Naval Base Kitsap.

The unemployment rate in Mason County in May was 10.9 percent, up from 10.4 percent in April. In Jefferson County, May’s rate was 10 percent, up from 9.5 percent. Washington state’s rate for May stood at 8.4 percent; the national rate remained steady at 8.2 percent.

People having jobs earned more money at them in the past year, according to Employment Security. The average annual wage grew by 3.6 percent statewide in 2011, from $48,162 in 2010 to $49,894 in 2011.

Much of the increase was due to a 7.5 percent increase in jobs paying more than $75,000.
“Month to month, we’ve been seeing strong growth in industries that tend to offer above-average pay,” said Employment Security commissioner Paul Trause.

Industries with the highest wage growth statewide last year were information technology, management and manufacturing.

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