The unemployment rate in Pierce County dropped by another tenth of a percentage point between May and June, marking continued but slow improvement in the county’s employment health despite some unfavorable numbers.
The report, presented by the federally-funded government agency WorkForce Central, said that payroll jobs increased by a total of 1,700, and professional and business services had 1,400 more employees in June than in the month prior.
The 5.1 percent unemployment rate is Pierce County’s lowest for any June in the past 10 years, though that number remains notably higher than the state figure — 4.5 percent — and nearly a full percentage point above the national average.
The county’s labor force decreased by nearly 2,000 and total employment dropped by a similar figure, despite the lower unemployment number.
“A significant drop in the labor force — probably due to June retirements — is likely linked to the lower unemployment rate,” the report said.
Several industries, including leisure and hospitality, plus trade, transportation, and utilities, reported modest month-over-month job gains in June. Just two sectors, construction and educational/health services, lost jobs.
The drop in educational and health jobs — by 1,200 — is not unusual given the time of year, WorkForce said, but the decline of construction jobs by 600 marks a departure from past trends.
Importantly, however, no industry lost jobs from June of last year. Similarly, the county’s unemployment rate has closed nearly half its full-point gap from the statewide rate in the past two months.