San Juan County jobless rate 7.5 percent; second-lowest in state

The job picture in San Juan County is … well, it could be worse.

The state’s unemployment rate rose in February to 8.4 percent, up from 7.8 percent in January.

But San Juan County’s jobless rate was 7.5 percent in February – the second-lowest in the state, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The rate in surrounding counties: Whatcom, 8.1 percent; Skagit, 9.8 percent; Island, 8.2 percent; Snohomish, 9.9 percent; Clallam, 10.6.

In San Juan County, that 7.5 percent jobless rate means that out of a workforce of 8,530 people, 640 were unemployed. In the same month last year, 320 people of a workforce of 8,010 were unemployed, a jobless rate of 4 percent.

Statewide, some 28,200 non-agricultural jobs were lost from January to February, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The most job growth occurred in the financial-activities industry, which added 1,200 jobs, the Employment Security Department reported. Industries with the largest declines were professional and business services, down 13,400 jobs; transportation, trade and utilities, down 4,900; construction, down 4,200; and manufacturing, which cut 2,500 jobs.

Year over year, Washington had 97,100 fewer jobs last month than in February 2008, a 3.3 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 3 percent from a year ago.

An estimated 330,572 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in February, a record.

“I urge unemployed workers to visit their nearest WorkSource center and take advantage of the expert resources there,” Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said in a press release. “More and more workers qualify for training assistance to prepare for a new career, and federal stimulus funds will arrive soon to help pay for it.”

In addition to training programs, unemployed workers can get help looking for work at Employment Security’s affiliated WorkSource offices across the state, where a variety of employment services are offered, including free help with interviewing skills or résumés and with job referrals. In addition, more than 15,000 current job openings are posted on

In San Juan County, contact Minnie Knych of the Northwest Workforce Council Career Center, 540 Guard St., No. 210, Friday Harbor. Call 378-4662.

Knych is offering a free Interview Skills seminar on April 2. Call her to enroll.